Air and Missile Defense: Cutting-Edge Technology Defends America’s Skies

August 27, 2018

The US Military, especially the Army, has been rolling out modern battlefield communication and control systems over the past few years. On the ground, these updates arrived rapidly with the use of integrated sensor architecture, a network construction that improves ground monitoring and intelligence application.

However, when it comes to aerial threats, a single network construction isn’t enough to raise our monitoring and defense systems above other countries’ threats. Instead, the Army is refreshing the foundation of its entire air and missile defense system with new hardware and software. The new system is the Integrated Air and Missile Defense Battle Command System.

Air and Missile Defense in America

There are several agencies and initiatives in America that handle air and missile defense. A premier effort is the US Army’s Air and Missile Defense Radar (AMD), used to detect unfriendly objects in the sky. Originally commissioned under Reagan in the 1980s, its network architecture is built upon Raytheon’s “Patriot System.” This radar identifies enemy objects in the air, such as unmanned aircraft, and targets them with guided missiles to incapacitate them. It also includes command-and-control technology that is used to coordinate the national framework and interceptors to handle situations in less explosive manners. The Army also has an Indirect Fire Protection Capability, which defends against rockets and other artillery.

The US Airforce operates a system called the Battle Control System – Fixed (BCS-F). NORAD employs this system for air surveillance, identification of objects in airspace, and security in support of North American homeland defense. This comprehensive air image serves both the United States and Canada. It is famous in non-industry circles for its annual “Santa Tracker.”

Both systems use extensive communication networks, sensor data, advanced display technology and precision engineered hardware to accomplish their mission goals. However, these systems are outdated, operating on hardware and software implemented between 1985 and 2010. Apart from the AMD, the BCS-F is undergoing renovations related to updated sensor technology and a more interoperable, open architecture.

What is the Integrated Air and Missile Defense Battle Command System?

The IAMD-BCS is the 2020 vision to modernize and update the AMD. The Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD) is the architecture of this defense network, which include launchers, shooters and radar. The Battle Command System (BCS) is the brains behind these tools, connecting their ability. The BCS is the heart of the modernization, with all new command-and-control communications systems intended to integrate information between the Navy, Air Force and Marines. The BCS is being developed by Northrop Grumman.

Unlike the BCS-F or the AMD, this project is a joint-force mission; however, it will still be primarily managed by the US Army. Moreover, it will function offensively as well as defensively. It will provide the same capabilities as the AMD and include new technology for unmanned aerial vehicles.

While the project has progressed slower than expected, it has gone through multiple rounds of testing and is expected to reach operational status in 2022. A key delay has been the increased involvement of precision sensors, automated actions and refining user experience for soldiers. Despite the slower pace, the project promises plenty of ultra-high tech. For example, Lockheed Martin revealed a next-generation radar at a Space and Missile Defense Symposium in 2017. A 360-degree radar, the technology represents a huge step forward by military innovators and could show up in the new IAMD-BCS.

Others in the industry point out that new digital elements are operate in cluttered and non-ideal environments much better than previous generations. These software systems allow advanced control, using materials like gallum nitride and tools such as dual-band control. New defense networks are also able to function in situations where electronic operations are a primary threat. In that scenario, an enemy may be using radio waves, laser light or other focused energy to disrupt electronics or listen in on communications.

Sealevel’s Role in Air and Missile Defense

While we can’t disclose the specific ways in which our products are being used in applications such as these, Sealevel is proud to support military operations through our American-made, precision-engineered I/O products.

Whether you’re a military contractor or another enterprise in need of rugged I/O or computing products, Sealevel would love to provide you with the right solution.