WASHINGTON — The U.S. Army awarded Northrop Grumman a $298 million contract modification to continue development and enhancement of the company’s Integrated Air and Missile Defense Battle Command System, or IBCS, Sept. 28.

These funds will pay for upgrades to IBCS engagement operations centers and integrated fire control network relay to boost performance and reliability, and make the systems easier to maintain, according to a Northrop statement. The company will also deliver IBCS software version 4.5 to integrate Patriot system updates.

"IBCS creates a paradigm shift for IAMD, and we have proven many transformational capabilities that will be game-changers on the battlefield. IBCS maximizes the combat potential of sensors and weapons while allowing future modernization at lower overall lifecycle costs,” said Dan Verwiel, Northrop Grumman vice president and general manager, missile defense and protective systems. “From integrating weapons developed decades ago with capabilities still in development, to rapidly adding protection against emerging threats and enabling seamless multi-domain operations, through logistics, training and lifecycle support, IBCS is solving some of the most difficult defense challenges confronting our nation and allies today. "

The brain behind the Army’s future air and missile defense command-and-control system, IBCS is considered an essential component of future multidomain operations. The system has performed well in a series of flight and operational tests, but has experienced substantial delays as the Army’s envisioned mission for the system has grown.

Initially, IBCS was meant to link sensors, launchers and shooters under one air and missile defense architecture, but the Army now plans to use IBCS to integrate other vital air and missile defense systems on the battlefield, including the Army’s Indirect Fire Protection Capability, which is designed to defend against rockets, mortars and artillery as well as cruise missiles and unmanned aircraft systems. After reviewing fiscal 2017 budget documents, Defense News first reported the initial operational capability for the program was delayed by four years and would need an additional half-billion dollars across a five-year span beyond previous budget requests.

ICBS will also be used to link together two of the Army’s most critical air and missile defense capabilities, the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system, or THAAD, and the Patriot short- to medium-range air and missile defense system. Getting these systems to effortlessly communicate is important to increase operational capability and paint a better picture of incoming threats.

But IBCS won’t only benefit the Army. The system has been tested in live joint exercises with the Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force, leveraging the Link 16 tactical data link that is employed on the Navy’s Aegis BMD guided-missile destroyers and Army’s AMD systems. During a test in April, IBCS controlled multiple sensors and interceptors from disparate air defense systems to track and defeat a ballistic missile target and a cruise missile target.

Jen Judson contributed to this report.

Daniel Cebul is an editorial fellow and general assignments writer for Defense News, C4ISRNET, Fifth Domain and Federal Times.

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