HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — The U.S. Army will embark on a yearslong effort this fall to ensure various weapons capabilities work in sync and are tailorable for combatant commanders, the service’s program executive officer for missiles and space said Tuesday at the Space and Missile Defense Symposium.
“I’d almost call it the main effort for our [program executive office],” Brig. Gen. Frank Lozano told Defense News in an interview. The so-called Integrated Fires Test Campaign has become “the centerpiece of what we’re trying to achieve from an offensive and defensive integrated-fires capability.”
The plan is to conduct the campaign through at least fiscal 2027, Lozano said, to incrementally identify how best to bring together capabilities as new systems come online.
The program executive office already conducted its first integrated fires test during the Northrop Grumman-made Integrated Battle Command System’s initial operational test and evaluation that began last year and ended earlier this year.
The Integrated Battle Command System was cleared for full-rate production in April. The Army IBCS with the RTX-developed Patriot air defense system and the Sentinel A3 radar, Lozano said.
IBCS was originally meant to serve as the brains for the Army’s future Integrated Air and Missile Defense system but has since received an expanded mission to connect a wide variety of sensors and shooters on the battlefield.
This fall, the Army will up the ante, integrating IBCS with the service’s future Lower Tier Air and Missile Defense Sensor, or LTAMDS, which will replace Patriot’s radar with a more comprehensive, 360-degree threat-detection capability. RTX delivered LTAMDS prototypes to the Army this year for testing.
In FY24, the Army will integrate IBCS, LTAMDS and the Indirect Fires Protection Capability. The latter is a system in development with Leidos-owned Dynetics that will help the Army defend semi-fixed and fixed sites from cruise missiles, rockets, artillery, mortars and possibly drones.
The Army’s upgraded Sentinel A4 radar, made by Lockheed Martin, will be tied into the test campaign in FY25. In FY26, the service will bring in the Army Long Range Persistent Surveillance, or ALPS, system — a battlefield sensor that uses different signals to track threats and is “a little less detectable” and “provides us a higher level of survivability,” Lozano said.
Also in FY26, the Army will integrate the Remote Interceptor Guidance-360, which can connect radars to launchers outside of its normal range, closing gaps and extending the battlefield.
The Lockheed Martin-designed RIG-360 is an antenna mounted on a trailer and easily deployable, Lozano said. It was approved to move into technology development in January but has already been used in a major live-fire test within the IBCS initial operational test and evaluation.
“It’s prototyped enough to know it works; now we just have to ruggedize it,” he said.
As the Army moves forward with the test campaign, much of what comes out of the integration work will feed directly into its contribution for the air and missile defense architecture under development for Guam. The test campaign also aligns directly with the operational fielding schedule for the Guam architecture.
The plan for Guam, according to former Missile Defense Agency Director Vice Adm. Jon Hill, is to have the architecture operational by 2026. Hill retired last month.
The architecture will include Army systems such as IBCS and LTAMDS as well as the Navy’s Aegis system and the SM-3 and SM-6 missiles.
The Missile Defense Agency plans to deliver the first wave of capability for the architecture in 2024.
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.