U.S. Army’s future battle command system is cleared for production

The Army delayed the production decision for the Northrop Grumman-developed Integrated Battle Command System in November due to administrative issues, but the Defense Acquisition Board was scheduled to meet again Dec. 18 to determine whether the critical capability was ready to move into low-rate initial production.

Ellen Lord, the undersecretary for acquisition and sustainment, signed the acquisition decision memorandum for the program on Jan. 13, just days before departing her post. She will step down on Jan. 20, and Stacy Cummings, the acting deputy assistant secretary of defense for acquisition, will temporarily fill the department’s top acquisition office once Joe Biden becomes president.

IBCS — which has cost the Army $2.7 billion to date to develop — was originally meant to serve as the command-and-control system for the Army’s future Integrated Air and Missile Defense System against regional ballistic missile threats, but the service has since expanded its planned role to tie together a much broader array of sensors and shooters capable of defeating other complex threats like cruise missiles and unmanned aircraft.

The decision to move into low-rate production, also triggers the start of the system’s initial operational test and evaluation phase this year. The Army plans to equip its first unit with the system in the third or fourth quarter of fiscal 2022.

The program is not only important to the U.S. but also to Poland, who is the first international customer under contract to purchase the IBCS system for its Patriot batteries.

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