Monday, August 24, 2009

Northrop Grumman Successfully Demonstrates Interoperability Between Manned and Unmanned Platforms

Northrop Grumman Successfully Demonstrates Interoperability Between
Manned and Unmanned Platforms
August 24, 2009

BETHPAGE, N.Y. - A leader in intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR), Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC) successfully demonstrated Joint STARS and E-2 Hawkeye interoperability between manned and unmanned platforms during a recent virtual joint military demonstration involving U.S. and coalition forces.

The demonstration, Empire Challenge 09 (EC09), was executed by
U.S. Joint Forces Command (USJFCOM) and aimed at demonstrating how U.S.
and coalition forces can better work together to collect, analyze and
share relevant reconnaissance information.

"The ability to collect and share real-time ISR at the theatre
and the tactical level quickly and accurately is crucial to ensuring
battle commanders have the enhanced situational awareness required for
successful mission completion," said Tom Vice, vice president of Battle
Management and Engagement Systems division for Northrop Grumman
Aerospace Systems sector. "During Empire Challenge, we successfully
demonstrated how manned command and control aircraft can direct and
manage unmanned aircraft to enhance image collection and target
identification. We will take what we've learned through this
collaborative exercise to continue to mature our ISR capabilities to
ensure our warfighters have the mission critical information they need
when they need it."

During the month-long exercise, virtual physics-based and
operational flight program simulations of multiple Northrop Grumman
platforms, including the E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar
System (Joint STARS) and E-2 Hawkeye Airborne Early Warning and Control
(AEW&C) aircraft, worked collaboratively to achieve interoperability
between multiple manned and unmanned aircraft via an airborne Web
services architecture.

One key element to the success of this interoperability was an
E-2 Hawkeye developmental test bed. The test bed is based on the robust
capability of the U.S. Navy's E-2 Hawkeye mission computing system
which enabled it to successfully operate the Electrical Optical (EO)
sensor onboard both manned and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in
response to requests from ground commanders. Using machine-to-machine
command interfaces, the E-2 test bed was able to cue each UAV simulator
to provide imagery of both static and dynamic ground tracks for target
identification. The image request messages were transmitted via
machine-to-machine interfaces, replacing the need for voice and manual
chat resulting in an increased response time.

The virtual Joint STARS integrated the Battle Management
Command and Control (BMC2) architecture providing constellation
management along with UAV control and multi-level security capability
sets which enabled the platform to demonstrate an expansion of its
current ISR role to include automated UAV image collection and
development of target quality solutions to support strike engagements.

Sensor imagery received from the UAVs via Joint STARS was
provided to an image analyst who examined each image and determined
which should be included in the image product library (IPL). Images in
the IPL were used to populate the Global Command and Control System
(GCCS). Once threats were identified, the E-2 test bed managed
airborne attack assets, including F-18s and EA-6Bs, to conduct
precision strike missions against those threats, based on Joint STARS
ground tracks and correlated imagery supporting threat identification.
The net effect of this ISR sensor tasking and command and control
network was a reduction in both the 'kill-chain,' the time it takes to
find, identify, and engage a target, and the operator workload required
to accomplish the task.

In addition to the virtual Joint STARS and E-2 Hawkeye
platforms, other Northrop Grumman assets participating virtually in
Empire Challenge 09 included the RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned aircraft
reconnaissance system, MQ-8B Fire Scout vertical takeoff and landing
unmanned system, and the MQ-5B Hunter medium altitude unmanned aerial

The virtual, human-in-the-loop wargaming environment utilized
in Empire Challenge was built by Northrop Grumman and developed with
the company's Cyber Warfare Integration Network (CWIN). Based at the
USJFCOM Joint Intelligence Laboratory (JIL) in Suffolk, Va., the
virtual platforms were linked to the "live-fly" exercise at the Naval
Air Weapons Station (NAWS) in China Lake, Calif., as well as the
Combined Air Operations Center-Experimental at Langley Air Force Base,

"By providing this virtual modeling and simulation environment,
Northrop Grumman added an increased level of complexity to the
demonstrations," said Chris Frangos, chief architect, Systems
Engineering Integration & Test (SEIT) director for Northrop Grumman
Aerospace Systems. "The ultimate goal of the exercise was to gain a
better understanding of the challenges that irregular warfare brings to
our warfighters and how Northrop Grumman platforms, technologies and
architectures provide solutions to these challenges."

Northrop Grumman Corporation is a leading global security
company whose 120,000 employees provide innovative systems, products,
and solutions in aerospace, electronics, information systems,
shipbuilding and technical services to government and commercial
customers worldwide.

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