WASHINGTON — The Army’s two key missile defense systems — Patriot and the Terminal High Altitude Air Defense system — successfully talked in a test conducted by the Missile Defense Agency and the service at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico, April 6.

The Army is planning to tie THAAD and Patriot together within in two years and received a surplus of funding in the recently passed fiscal 2018 omnibus spending bill to proceed with the effort.

Tying the systems together is critical to establishing a more effective, layered approach to air-and-missile defense and could enhance the development of the Army’s future AMD command-and-control system, the Integrated Air-and-Missile Defense Battle Command System — or IBCS.

Both THAAD and Patriot picked up a live short-range Lynx missile target suing their radars and tracked the target individually, but both systems “exchanged messages through tactical data links and verified interoperability between the weapons systems,” according to an MDA statement.

No live interceptors were launched.

“These two weapon systems are vitally important as components of our layered ballistic missile defense system and it is critical that they are able to transmit data and communicate with one another,” MDA Director Lt. Gen. Samuel Greaves said in the statement.

The test supported the materiel release of the THAAD 3.0 software upgrades and meets requirements laid out in the FY16 National Defense Authorization Act for the MDA and Army to annually test interoperability and integration of THAAD and Patriot, the statement notes.

Driving the effort are the forces in South Korea where both THAAD and Patriot are deployed. THAAD is also deployed in Guam, while Patriot units are spread wider around the world. Patriot deployments are considered to be among the most taxing and lengthy ones in the Army.

Jen Judson is an award-winning journalist covering land warfare for Defense News. She has also worked for Politico and Inside Defense. She holds a Master of Science degree in journalism from Boston University and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Kenyon College.

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