During a sophisticated flight test of the U.S. Army’s Integrated Air and Missile Defense Battle Command System (IBCS), developed by Northrop Grumman, data from Army, Air Force and Marine Corps sensors and weapons systems were fused on a network.
This capability demonstration enabled operators to connect any sensor with the best shooter to see, track and intercept a cruise missile target, despite a highly contested electronic attack environment that jammed some of the radars and would have otherwise denied the intercept. In addition, IBCS shared target flight track data with a Navy C2 system during the event.
The flight test was another in the system’s long series of successful intercepts, but it was much more: It was proof of the Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2) capabilities inherent in Northrop Grumman’s modular open systems approach (MOSA) to C2 architecture—capabilities crucial to Department of Defense preparations for the battlespace of the future.
JADC2 and Joint Connectivity
In that not-too-distant future, adversaries will threaten with advanced weapons from every domain—land, air, sea, space and cyberspace—and from every direction, all at the same time and potentially at hypersonic speeds. To prevail, it’s now recognized by militaries across the globe that stand-alone networks must be more integrated to enable command and control of the full battlespace across domains and services. That connectivity will allow them to perform as a joint force, coordinating defense and strike strategies and saving every precious second.
“What we demonstrated during the July flight test is the capacity of our approach and architecture to integrate multi-domain systems across the services,” said Mike Foust, a Northrop Grumman engineering fellow and Integrated Air and Missile Defense chief architect. “We’ve already proven joint-force connectivity and shown the path to future Joint All-Domain and Command and Control.”
Among Northrop Grumman’s solutions to the broader demands of JADC2 is the innovative Joint Integrated Fires Command, Control and Communications system (JIFC3). It uses as a foundation the resilient, extensible MOSA architecture and incorporates new tools to help commanders quickly coordinate, deconflict and synchronize defensive and strike firing of missiles and other assets.
Integrating Today and Tomorrow
Foust emphasizes this truly open systems architecture enables disaggregation of stove-piped systems and joint connectivity at every level—weapon or sensor systems and all military nodes, even whole C2 systems.
The approach creates a highly-accurate common operating picture as sensors share data to create composite tracks of missiles or other threats that can be used by any effector or weapon system to engage them. Weapon systems may share C2 capabilities so that an airborne or space-based sensor might someday cue firing of a ship- or land-based missile.
“Our architecture can integrate future systems, as well as existing systems that were never designed for joint use,” Foust added. “We can leverage the large investment in current systems, which may gain extended range or fuller use of their capabilities—or discover new uses and missions for them—as part of the joint system.”
Joint connectivity, integrating all the sensors, effectors and capabilities available across all the military services and domains, provides warfighters with beyond-line-of-sight vision and control, and with more time and more options for action. It’s the necessary solution to the challenges of the future battlespace. And Foust saw the shape of that future back in July at White Sands.
“This flight test was the proof of our architecture,” said Foust. “Now we are demonstrating truly joint, all-domain command and control.”