UPDATE – This story has been updated to include a statement from Northrop Grumman.
WASHINGTON – The U.S. military has awarded Northrop Grumman a $ 1.4 billion contract for low-rate initial production and full-rate production of its future combat command system, according to a Pentagon contract announcement from the December 23.
“This award represents the first major competition for this major defense procurement program since the award in 2009 of the engineering and manufacturing development contract” to Northrop Grumman, a military statement said on December 23.
The service has received two offers, according to the DoD announcement. The estimated contract completion date is December 22, 2026.
The Army’s Integrated Combat Command System, or IBCS, will link sensors and shooters across the battlefield. It was cleared to produce in January 2021.
The program has cost the military approximately $ 2.7 billion to develop to date and was initially intended to serve only as a command and control system for the future integrated army air and missile defense system against regional ballistic missile threats. But the service has since expanded its role to link a wide range of sensors and shooters capable of defeating other complex threats, such as cruise missiles and unmanned aircraft.
The program was nearly four years behind schedule and struggled during limited user testing in 2016. But following several soldier checks and other test events in recent years, the system passed a limited user test successfully in the summer of 2020.
The system is currently in an initial phase of operational testing and evaluation which is expected to be completed in early 2022.
The program is important not only for the United States but also for Poland, the first international customer under contract to purchase the IBCS system for its Patriot batteries.
Under the contract issued Thursday, Northrop will supply up to 160 systems to the military and foreign partners, the military statement noted.
“In partnership with the US military, Northrop Grumman will provide the IBCS to the fighter, bringing his critical capabilities in all areas to the evolving battlefield,” said Mary Petryszyn, president of Northrop Grumman Defense Systems, in a statement. sent December 23 to Defense News. “This is also an important step in extending our open systems architecture approach to JADC2. “
JADC2, or Joint All Domain Command and Control, is the Pentagon’s major effort to connect all sensors on the battlefield to combatants, enabling faster transfer of data, information, intelligence, and communications between platforms and Services.
The military expects to make a full production decision on the IBCS in FY 2023. “The contract will allow the program to seamlessly increase production to meet the commissioning priorities of the army, “according to the army statement.
The IBCS program is delivered within the Integrated Fires Mission Command portfolio, which is part of the Army Missiles and Space Program Executive Office.
Meanwhile, the military also awarded Boeing a $ 240 million contract on Thursday to integrate the engines from the Enhanced Turbine Engine Program (ITEP) into the AH-64E Apache attack helicopter. The estimated completion date is December 31, 2026.
The military validated its design for the ITEP and a year ago the service was on schedule to deliver the first engine to be tested in the fourth quarter of fiscal year 21. But due to complications from the coronavirus, the military has pushed this back to January 2022.
The service plans to use the next-generation engine in all Apache and UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter engines, as well as engines for the future attack reconnaissance aircraft it plans to deploy in the 2030s.
Jen Judson is the Ground War Reporter for Defense News. She covered defense in the Washington area for 10 years. She was previously a journalist for Politico and Inside Defense. She won the National Press Club’s Best Analytical Reporting Award in 2014 and was named Best Young Defense Journalist by the Defense Media Awards in 2018.