HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — The next round of upgrades for the U.S. Missile Defense Agency’s battle command system is expected to deliver a more comprehensive battlefield picture, according to the system’s developer, Lockheed Martin.
MDA earlier this month awarded Lockheed a $157 million contract to upgrade the Command Control Battle Management and Communications, or C2BMC, system.
This spiral of upgrades will give the Ground-Based Midcourse Defense, or GMD, system a single, composite, real-time picture of threats by tying into and fusing data from a broader set of sensors to include satellites and ground- and ship-based radars, according to the company.
The GMD system is a U.S.-based capability designed to defend the homeland against intercontinental ballistic missile threats, particularly from North Korea and Iran. The system is made up of interceptors buried in the ground at Fort Greely, Alaska, and Vandenberg Space Force base in California.
The upgrades “really focus on enhancing the [GMD] system, so almost a global view, like what we would see in the U.S. combatant commands when before their picture might have been a little more focused,” Paul Pfahler, Lockheed’s C4ISR missile defense business lead, told Defense News in an interview at the Space and Missile Defense Symposium this month.
Lockheed has been the prime contractor for C2BMC since 2002. The system, first fielded in 2004, has gone through numerous upgrades, which are spiraled in to adapt to threats.
C2BMC has been designed to focus from a strategic level down to an operational level, Pfahler said. Because the last round of upgrades linked it to the Army’s Integrated Battle Command System, the system can provide threat pictures down to the tactical level as well. IBCS is the C2 system in development for the service’s air and missile defense architecture.
The next round of upgrades will allow the C2BMC system to pass data back and forth with IBCS and other sensors, including space sensors.
“You’re really seeing the ability of that C2 to [be integrated] through the entire kill chain,” Pfahler said.
The previous round of upgrades, which is nearly complete, integrated the Long-Range Discrimination Radar, or LRDR, into C2BMC, improved the system’s overall space domain awareness capability, hardened it against cyber attacks and integrated the Army’s IBCS into the missile defense architecture.
With the new upgrades coming online in the next several years, the system is closer to providing advanced joint-all domain command-and-control (JADC2) capabilities.
JADC2 is the Pentagon’s warfighting strategy focused on building an overarching network to fight highly capable adversaries like China and Russia. This would require high-bandwidth, resilient communications and the ability to share massive amounts of data to help commanders make fast decisions.
While C2BMC started out as a way to connect homeland defense, Vice Adm. Jon Hill, MDA director, told Defense News in an interview at the SMD Symposium, the system is really becoming a hardened network on a global scale.
“When you think about a ship or Patriot [air-and-missile defense] battery, [Terminal High Altitude Area Defense] battery, you’ll have the sensor and the command-and-control and the missile launchers all co-located,” Hill explained.
“But when you look at the global intercontinental ballistic missile threat, you’re going to want to have sensors that are way forward and that come back and you’re going to have your missile fields in another area, your command-and-control someplace else in the nation,” he said. “So how do you connect all that together with the right latencies, the amount of data that you need to pipe through so that you can seamlessly detect, do the [C2] and then engage?”
The system also now connects to regional systems such as Aegis ships, THAAD and Patriot, Hill said.
Hill said going forward, the plan is to eventually integrate C2BMC with JADC2. “Where we are today, if you look at what JADC2 is doing in the long term, C2BMC is the JADC2 for MDA,” he added.
An important aspect of growing C2BMC’s capability, Hill noted, is everything connected through the system has to be “seamless to the warfighter,” he said, “and there’s a lot of work to be done to make sure that’s the case.”
Jen Judson is the land warfare reporter for Defense News. She has covered defense in the Washington area for 10 years. She was previously a reporter at Politico and Inside Defense. She won the National Press Club's best analytical reporting award in 2014 and was named the Defense Media Awards' best young defense journalist in 2018.