Earlier this month, the Army conducted a series of missile defense flight tests that used a new prototype communications device that connects the combat management system to a Patriot missile interceptor.
During Integrated Flight Test-2 at White Sands Missile Range, NM, Nov. 17, Army Integrated Fire Mission Command and members of the 3rd Battalion, 43rd Defense Artillery Regiment airline have successfully tested the Lockheed Martin [LMT] prototype Remote Interceptor Guidance Device-360 (RIG-360) to communicate with a Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) interceptor missile in flight.
This element of the test was intended to test the RIG-360 data link capabilities. The RIG-360 was connected to the Northrop Grumman [NOC] Integrated Combat Command System (IBCS).
The RIG-360 prototype “enables 360-degree PAC-3 engagement capability using target data from various sensors,” Lockheed Martin said in a statement.
IBCS is the Army’s future missile defense command platform, aimed at integrating and connecting the service’s detection and firing capabilities.
The military said the “special test event,” led by the Air and Missile Defense Test Directorate’s Operational Test Command, was intended to demonstrate the unit’s integrated air and missile defense capability. armed to execute a kill chain against a land-launched cruise missile substitute.
Soldiers successfully engaged with a cruise missile threat surrogate by connecting IBCS, the Patriot defense system, Sentinel radars, adapted Patriot launchers and PAC-3 interceptors, the military said.
The military noted that preliminary data indicates the target was successfully intercepted and planned flight test objectives against the cruise missile target were met.
This test comes weeks after Northrop Grumman said the military completed the 10-month Initial Operational Test and Evaluation (IOT&E) period for IBCS, which marked the last major test event before moving into full-scale production (daily defenseNovember 8).
Northrop Grumman pointed out that this event included two separate tests.
The first live target engagement involved a Raytheon Technologies [RTX] AN/MPQ-64 Sentinel radar tracking an unspecified cruise missile target across the desert.
IBCS engaged the target using Lockheed Martin’s RIG-360 prototype as an uplink to the PAC-3 interceptor. The company said the RIG-360 connection to Patriot was developed through Northrop Grumman’s internal research and development efforts “to perform the engineering necessary to integrate RIG-360 into IBCS.”
The company did not disclose the amount of internal funding required.
Northop Grumman argued that the first test proves that the IBCS no longer depends on the Patriot radar to provide communications links to the interceptor and shows that the system can be quickly integrated with new technology because it uses a modular architecture, open and scalable that allows the army to disintegrate sensors and shooters.
“IBCS’s ability to integrate with any available networked sensor and effector gives the warfighter flexibility, time, and dominance in the battlespace. With each unique system test, the IBCS architecture has proven that the system defines the possibilities for providing command and control in all domains,” said Christine Harbison, vice president and general manager of combat systems and mission readiness at Northrop Grumman, in a statement.
The company said the second test allowed IBCS to detect, track, engage and destroy a surrogate land-launched cruise missile, using a Patriot interceptor for a fire quality trail and common operating picture. .
“This successful test confirms that our RIG-360 prototype is one of the many ways we continue to deliver technology to ensure our customers stay ahead of all 21st century threats,” said said Scott Arnold, vice president of integrated air and missile defense at Lockheed. Martin Missiles and Fire Control, said in a statement.
“The success of this test confirms that the IBCS is progressing on the right path in becoming the foundation of our nation’s modernized air and missile defense capabilities,” the brigadier said. Gen. Frank Lozano, director general of the Army’s Missile and Space Program, said in a statement.
Army Col. Chris Hill, project manager of the Integrated Fires Mission Command Project Office, agreed.
“This successful test confirms that IBCS is well positioned to combat present and future threats to our nation and our allies…We will continue to meet Warfighter requirements and work as an integrated team committed to modernization of our army,” Hill said.
Last year, the Army awarded Northrop Grumman a potential $1.4 billion production contract for initial low-rate production and full-rate production of IBCS, covering up to 160 IBCS. At the time, the military said a full-rate production decision for the IBCS was expected in fiscal year 2023 (daily defenseDecember 23, 2021).
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