The US military will test the missile defense command system with the THAAD weapon

The U.S. military plans to test this month whether its key command and control system, the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense System, can operate, according to the agency’s guidelines for modernizing air and missile defenses.

The Army initially developed the Integrated Battle Command System as the brains of a future air and missile defense system, intending to pair it with a new 360-degree radar and possibly new launchers to replace the aging Patriot air defense system. .

“When we look at our prioritization of capabilities that we want to integrate into IBCS, THAAD is right where it’s currently listed as a priority. I won’t go into where on the priority list, but it’s absolutely there,” Col. William Parker said in a recent interview with Defense News.

As part of the Army’s effort to connect a web of sensors and shooters on the battlefield, it has spent more than a decade developing IBCS to work with radars such as the Sentinel A4, Patriot, Lower Tier Air and Missile Defense Sensor, and Indirect Fire Protection Capability. The latter, which is still under development, is expected to be capable of defeating rockets, artillery, mortars, cruise missiles and drones.

IBCS experienced years of delays related to growing mission sets and technical problems in an initial limited user test in 2016. The military spent years working out software issues through subsequent user tests. The agency conducted an initial operational test and evaluation in 2022 and declared it fully operationally capable in the spring of 2023.

The Army will conduct a full operational test and evaluation for the IBCS in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2024 and plans to field the capability in the first unit around mid-fiscal 2025, Parker said.

Now that IBCS has cleared several hurdles, Parker’s arm — the Air and Missile Defense Cross-Functional Team, which is part of the Army Futures Command — is working to integrate the command and control technology with several other systems, such as THAAD.

The cross-functional team is scheduled to experiment with this integration in Project Convergence, which begins on February 23 and runs through mid-March. Project Convergence is a learning campaign where the joint force experiments with the capabilities it envisions being needed against high-level threats and advanced adversaries.

The core effort is focused on joint integration of sensors and shooters, and the Army will push data through IBCS to THAAD command and control to see how much bandwidth it can handle, Parker said.

“You have so many sensors on the battlefield, and the greater ability we have to take advantage of that to provide data, to provide situational awareness, whatever the case may be, is just going to help our commanders on the ground. Parker said.

While IBCS is now a program of record and will live mostly under the Executive Office Missiles and Space program authority, the cross-functional team continues to work on “agile development” of the technology. The team is constantly looking at what software upgrades to the system can be incorporated in order to expand the capabilities and then push those upgrades to IBCS.

Jen Judson is an award-winning journalist who covers land warfare for Defense News. He has also worked for Politico and Inside Defense. He holds a master’s degree in journalism from Boston University and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Kenyon College.

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