As announced in a recent press release, ThalesRaytheonSystems has been awarded a contract by the NATO Air Command and Control System (ACCS) Management Agency on behalf of the NATO Active Layered Theatre Ballistic Missile Defence programme (ALTBMD), to upgrade the operational hardware and software of the ALTBMD Territorial Missile Defence (TMD) Interim Capability (InCa).
ALTBMD is a System of Systems providing the NATO with the capability to defend NATO Forces, deployed either within or beyond NATO's Area of Responsibility, against the threat posed by Tactical Ballistic Missiles with ranges up to 3000 km.
ALTBMD does not create another separate NATO system, but adapts existing systems to support NATO Territorial Missile Defence (TMD). Systems being integrated into the ALTBMD are:
- the NC3A BI-SC AIS (NATO Consultation, Command and Control Agency Bi-Strategic Commands Automated Information System)
- the NACMA ACCS (NATO ACCS Management Agency Air Command and Control System)
- the NGCS (NATO General Communication System)
- sensors and weapon systems provided by the NATO Nations, and integrated into the NATO ICC (Integrated Command and Control System).
- Step 1 provides some of the required functionality by leveraging NATO research programmes in the Theater Ballistic Missile Defence area. The Step 1 InCa is based on NC3A Bi-SC AIS Prototype 1, that is interfaced with the NATO ICC system and deployed in the locations designated by the NATO Military Authorities. The implementation of TMD Interim Capability Step 1 has provided an early operational capability to the user community and at the same time provides a building block for a more robust Interim Capability.
- Step 2 provides the full interim functionality required by the NATO Strategic Commands. Building on Step 1, additional Theater Ballistic Missile Defence area planning and tasking functionality as well as interfaces with national systems will be fielded, and Situational Awareness functionality will be included. The final step of the Interim Capability will provide enhanced coordination between the various NATO levels of command, resting atop the NGCS that provides the underlying communication services for the NATO ALTBMD Interim Capability.
Recognizing the need for missile defence to counter nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC) threats, the 1999 NATO strategic concept stated: “The Alliance's defence posture against the risks and potential threats of the proliferation of NBC weapons and their means of delivery must continue to be improved, including through work on missile defence. The aim in doing so will be to further reduce operational vulnerabilities of NATO military forces while maintaining their flexibility and effectiveness despite the presence, threat or use of NBC weapons.”
In May 2001, NATO launched two feasibility studies conducted by teams led by Lockheed-Martin and SAIC. The Active Layered Theatre Ballistic Missile Defence programme (ALTBMD) was established in September 2005 after the completion of the two-year feasibility study in which eight NATO nations and various NATO projects cooperatively participated. The focus of the programme was the upgrade, test and integration of NATO’s command and control (C2) systems and underlying communication network to enable effective information exchanges between various NATO and national missile defence systems in both real-time (engagement) and non real-time (planning). This integrated system-of-systems architecture will create a larger range of detection, communication and missile defence capabilities for NATO forces, whether deployed within or beyond NATO’s area of responsibility. It will also provide complete coverage against the threat posed by tactical ballistic missiles with ranges up to 3,000 kilometres.
In November 2006, at the Riga Summit Meeting of NATO Heads of State and Government, an SAIC corporate officer and the ALTBMD Programme Manager signed the official agreement (the NATO Secretary General looks on). This $95 million contract envisioned the fielding of both an initial operational capability (IOC) and a final operational capability (FOC).
In 2007, ALTBMD members, voluntary national contributors and national experts from nine contributing NATO nations combined with company members to form Integrated Project Teams in The Hague. These IPTs included companies from several member nations, including: Finmeccanica, Diehl, EADS, iABG, QinetiQ, Raytheon, Thales and ThalesRaytheonSystems.
An important milestone for the programme is achieved in 2008 when the ALTBMD integration and test facility (known as the “Integration Test Bed - ITB”) becomes operational (ahead of schedule). Consisting of computer simulation tools to test the architectures, it started to be used for integration tests to ensure that all national systems worked effectively together. With connections to participating member nations' operations and test facilities throughout the Alliance, the approach to the development of this complex system of systems was based on extensive prototyping, design and implementation of advanced architectures, and their validation through modelling and computer-based simulation.
The programme kept on incrementally building toward its final Reference Architecture in two distinct phases, known as Capability 1 and Capability 2. Capability 1 includes the available C2 units, sensors and lower tier weapon systems, while Capability 2 will add upper tier weapon systems.
In 2009, an early capability requested by the NATO Strategic Commands began to be fielded (Interim Capability - InCA), providing some of the required functionality by leveraging NATO research programmes in the TBMD area and capabilities that were currently in use. The fielding of InCA 1 was completed on 2010 to 18 NATO sites.
Pursuant to the expanded NATO ambition for missile defence as articulated at the Lisbon Summit, a contract was also signed on 20 September 2011 with an industry consortium led by SAIC. This team joined the Programme Office at the NATO C3 Agency in The Hague on 3 October 2011 to develop the detailed technical requirements to transform NATO’s Theatre Missile Defence Programme into a programme to protect the NATO territory and populations. The consortium includes: France (EADS Astrium), Germany (IABG), Italy (Finmeccanica's SELEX Sistemi Integrati), The Netherlands (TNO), the UK (QinetiQ) and the U.S. (SAIC, Raytheon).
Under the last awarded contraco, ThalesRaytheonSystems will be upgrading TMD InCa Step 2 to the latest configuration of NATO Air Command and Control System (ACCS). As the world’s first fully integrated C2 system for planning, tasking and execution of air operations, NATO ACCS replaces multiple aging air C2 systems in the NATO nations.
“ThalesRaytheonSystems is committed to supporting this alliance focused approach. Systems such as the Air Command and Control System Level of Operational Capability 1 (ACCS LOC1) and Missile Defence on top of ACCS LOC1 will be critically important to fight as one alliance with warfighters from across the nations trained on common highly interoperable Command and Control systems,” said Jack Harrington, CEO, ThalesRaytheonSystems, during a briefing to NATO and industry participants at the contract signature ceremony in the NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium.