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Northrop Grumman’s IBCS wins US ARMY FRP approval, strengthening its AIR6500 bid

The US Defense Department has approved Full Rate Production for Northrop Grumman Corporation’s Integrated Battle Command System (IBCS). The decision validates the maturity of the IBCS which is at the core of the company’s bid for Australia’s Joint Air Battle Management System project, AIR6500, and de-risks its bid significantly; a decision on which of two contenders will prime the project is scheduled for later this year – Lockheed Martin Australia is the other shortlisted contender.

The IBCS enables sensor-to-decider-to-weapon integration and is now the cornerstone of the U.S. Army’s air and missile defence modernization strategy.

The company says the IBCS is “paradigm-changing”: it is designed to rapidly integrate all available sensors and shooters to deliver decision-quality fire control data across joint networks providing a 360-degree view, even if a sensor becomes inoperable. This capability provides increased situational awareness, more effectively manages resources, and enables integration across coalition partners. It also enables the establishment of a sovereign Australian supply chain to deliver and support Project AIR6500.

In December 2021, Northrop Grumman was awarded a US$1.4 billion production contract for Low-Rate Initial Production (LRIP) and Full Rate Production (FRP), and in late 2022, the program completed Initial Operational test and Evaluation (OT&E). The U.S. Army is expected to declare Initial Operational Capability (IOC) for IBCS later this calendar year and now this milestone has been achieved it can schedule the fielding of IBCS to operational air defence units Army-wide.

“IBCS transforms the battlespace by fusing data from any sensor to create a single integrated air picture allowing commanders to see the battlespace and use the best weapons to defeat complex threats,” said Rebecca Torzone, vice president and general manager, combat systems and mission readiness, Northrop Grumman. “Northrop Grumman shares the U.S. Army’s commitment to the rapid deployment of IBCS.”

The system provides state-of-the-art, all domain command and control for integrated air and missile defence for U.S. interests across the globe. Poland shas elected IBCS to serve as the centrepiece of the country’s air and missile defence modernization, and as it is adopted by more U.S. allies and partners, IBCS will enable high levels of coalition force interoperability and network integration.

This decision is the latest in a series of milestones for the program. In a developmental test in November 2022, IBCS successfully intercepted a cruise missile target using a Patriot interceptor without having a Patriot radar in the system architecture. The test demonstrated the flexibility of the IBCS system architecture and its capacity to optimize the capabilities of integrated sensors and effectors onto its network. Additionally, the Agile framework used for IBCS software development yields rapid capability enhancements and addresses emerging threats.

IBCS implements a modular, open and scalable architecture that is foundational to integrating available assets in the battlespace, regardless of source, service or domain onto a common fire control network. Its architecture enables the efficient and affordable integration of current and future systems and extends the battlespace by disaggregating sensors and effectors. By enabling this high level of network integration, the warfighter is given unprecedented time to make decisions within the kill chain. Through numerous successful development and operational tests and demonstrations, IBCS has proven its capability to connect and fuse multi-service sensor data to multi-service weapons, demonstrating Joint All Domain Command and Control (JADC2) capabilities.

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