Tag Archives: Northrop Grumman

Army reconnaissance

Northrop Grumman Corporation and Martin UAV (a Shield AI company) have completed successful flight testing of a V-BAT Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) with new features including GPS-denied navigation and target designation capabilities.

V-BAT
Northrop Grumman and Martin UAV conduct flight testing of Martin UAV’s V-BAT aircraft for the US Army’s Future Tactical Unmanned Aircraft System effort in Camp Grafton, North Dakota

«The enhanced V-BAT offers a near zero footprint, flexible Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) capability that is based on a platform deployed operationally today, to address the U.S. Army’s Future Tactical Unmanned Aircraft System (FTUAS) mission», said Kenn Todorov, sector vice president and general manager, global sustainment and modernization, Northrop Grumman. «The team brings more than 30 years’ experience in the production, delivery and sustainment of unmanned aircraft systems to support this critical mission today and into the future».

For FTUAS, the U.S. Army is seeking a rapidly deployable, GPS-denied navigation-capable, expeditionary VTOL system capable of persistent aerial reconnaissance for U.S. Army Brigade Combat Teams, Special Forces, and Ranger battalions.

The offering is based on the industry leading Martin UAV V-BAT UAS. It is compact, lightweight, simple to operate, and can be set up, launched and recovered by a two-soldier team in confined environments. The V-BAT also is designed with sufficient payload capacity to carry a range of interchangeable payloads, including Electro-Optical/Infra-Red (EO/IR), Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR), and Electronic Warfare (EW) payloads, depending on mission-specific requirements. Additionally, Shield AI’s recent acquisition of Martin UAV will enable rapid development of GPS-denied and autonomy capabilities for V-BAT through the future porting of Shield AI’s autonomy stack, Hivemind onto V-BAT.

Northrop Grumman solves the toughest problems in space, aeronautics, defense and cyberspace to meet the ever evolving needs of our customers worldwide. Our 90,000 employees define possible every day using science, technology and engineering to create and deliver advanced systems, products and services.

Integration and Validation

Northrop Grumman Corporation delivered the Arrays at Commercial Timescales Integration and Validation (ACT-IV) system to the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) and Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). The system is based on an advanced digital Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) that completed multiple successful demonstrations and acceptance testing at Northrop Grumman test facilities.

ACT-IV
Northrop Grumman tests its Arrays at Commercial Timescales Integration and Validation (ACT-IV) digital AESA system for the AFRL and DARPA at the company radar range in Linthicum, Maryland (Source: Northrop Grumman)

«The development of the ACT-IV system is a breakthrough in AESA performance and marks an important milestone in the nation’s transition to digitally reprogrammable multifunction Radio Frequency (RF) systems», said William Phillips, director, multifunction systems, Northrop Grumman. «The new ACT-IV capabilities have the agility to defeat complex emerging threats and will be used to enhance the next generation of integrated circuits and AESAs that are currently in our digital AESA product pipeline».

ACT-IV is one of the first multifunction systems based on a digital AESA using the semiconductor devices developed on the DARPA Arrays at Commercial Timescales (ACT) program. By applying the flexibility of the digital AESA, the ACT-IV system can perform radar, electronic warfare and communication functions simultaneously by controlling a large number of independent digital transmit/receive channels. The agility of the digital AESA was demonstrated during multiple demonstrations at the Northrop Grumman test range and will enable future warfighters to quickly adapt to new threats, control the electromagnetic spectrum, and connect to tactical networks in support of distributed operations.

The ACT-IV system will be a foundational research asset for the Department of Defense’s multi-service research initiative for digital radars and multifunction systems. This initiative will support a community of researchers that are developing new algorithms and software to explore the possibilities of next generation digital AESAs for national security missions.

The algorithms, software and capabilities developed on ACT-IV will transition into next generation multifunction RF systems to support advanced development programs throughout the Department of Defense.

«This delivery is the culmination of the close collaboration between the teams at AFRL, DARPA and Northrop Grumman», said Doctor Bae-Ian Wu, ACT-IV project lead, Sensors Directorate, AFRL. «The ACT-IV system is being prepared for initial testing by the AFRL Sensors Directorate as part of a strategic investment to develop and test the technologies for multifunction digital phased array systems in an open-architecture environment for the larger DoD community».

Northrop Grumman is the industry leader in developing mission-capable, cost-efficient, open-architecture and multi-function radar and sensor systems to observe, orient and act across all domains – land, sea, air and space. They provide the joint forces with the intelligence they need to operate safely in today’s multi-domain operational environment.

Northrop Grumman solves the toughest problems in space, aeronautics, defense and cyberspace to meet the ever evolving needs of our customers worldwide. Our 90,000 employees define possible every day using science, technology and engineering to create and deliver advanced systems, products and services.

Milestone C

The U.S. Navy’s Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile – Extended Range (AARGM-ER) received Milestone C (MS-C) approval August 23, allowing the program to move into its first phase of production.

AARGM-ER
The U.S. Navy’s Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile-Extended Range (AARGM-ER) completes its first live fire event July 19 off the coast of Point Mugu Sea Test Range in California (U.S. Navy photo)

The U.S. Navy plans to award the first two low-rate initial production lots over the next several months.

«The combined government/industry team has worked tirelessly over the last few years to reach this milestone», said Captain Alex Dutko, Direct and Time Sensitive Strike (PMA-242) program manager. «We look forward to getting this new weapon with its increased capability and lethality out to the fleet as soon as possible».

The MS-C decision comes just over two years after the Navy awarded the Engineering and Manufacturing Development (EMD) contract to its prime contractor, Northrop Grumman. The team conducted the first live-fire event in July to verify system integration and rocket motor performance, as well as initiate modeling and simulation validation.

Captive and live fire flight testing is planned to continue through 2022 and Initial Operational Capability (IOC) is planned for 2023.

The U.S. Navy is integrating AARGM-ER on the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler, and it will be compatible for integration on the F-35 Lightning II. By leveraging the U.S. Navy’s AARGM program, the AARGM-ER with a new rocket motor and warhead will provide advanced capability to detect and engage enemy air defense systems.

First Live Fire

The U.S. Navy has successfully completed the first live fire of the Northrop Grumman Corporation AGM-88G Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile Extended Range (AARGM-ER) from a U.S. Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet. The test was conducted on July 19 at the Point Mugu Sea Range off the coast of southern California. The missile successfully demonstrated the long range capability of the new missile design.

AARGM-ER
Northrop Grumman’s Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile Extended Range Completes First Successful Missile Live Fire

«The AARGM-ER was successfully launched from the F/A-18 Super Hornet aircraft and met the key test objectives of a first missile live fire event. The government and industry team had great focus and was able to conduct this test event three months earlier than originally envisioned», said Captain A.C. «Count» Dutko, Navy Program Manager for Direct Time Sensitive Strike (PMA-242).

AARGM-ER leverages AARGM with significant improvements in some technology areas.

«Throughout the Engineering and Manufacturing Development phase, Northrop Grumman has demonstrated the ability to deliver this affordable, time-critical capability that will protect and enhance the capability of our U.S. Navy aircrew», said Gordon Turner, vice president, advanced weapons, Northrop Grumman. «Congratulations to the collective Government-Industry team for another successful milestone bringing AARGM-ER one step closer to operational fielding».

AARGM-ER is being integrated on the Navy F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler aircraft as well as the Air Force F-35A Lightning II, Marine Corps F-35B Lightning II, and Navy and Marine Corps F-35C Lightning II aircraft.

Multi-Intelligence Upgrade

The U.S. Navy conducted its first test flight of the MQ-4C Triton in its upgraded hardware and software configuration July 29 at Naval Air Station (NAS) Patuxent River, beginning the next phase of the unmanned aircraft’s development.

MQ-4C Triton
U.S. Navy Conducts First MQ-4C Triton Test Flight with Multi-Intelligence Upgrade

The MQ-4C Triton flew in its new configuration, known as Integrated Functional Capability (IFC)-4, which will bring an enhanced multi-mission sensor capability as part of the Navy’s Maritime Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance and Targeting (MISR&T) transition plan.

Triton’s Integrated Test Team (ITT) comprised of the U.S. Navy, Australian cooperative partners, and government/industry teams completed a functional check flight and initial aeromechanical test points, demonstrating stability and control of the MQ-4C after a 30-month modification period.

«Today’s flight is a significant milestone for the program and a testament to the resolve of the entire ITT, their hard work, and passion for test execution and program success», said Captain Dan Mackin, Persistent Maritime Unmanned Aircraft Systems program manager. «This flight proves that the program is making significant progress toward Triton’s advanced multi-intelligence upgrade and it brings us closer to achieving the Initial Operational Capability (IOC) milestone».

Multiple Triton assets have been modified into the IFC-4 configuration in support of IOC in 2023. A single test asset is in the current IFC-3 configuration to support sustainment of deployed systems as well as risk reduction for IFC-4.

Currently, two MQ-4C Triton aircraft in the baseline configuration known as IFC-3 are forward deployed to 7th Fleet in support of Early Operational Capability (EOC) and Commander Task Force (CTF)-72 tasking. Unmanned Patrol Squadron 19 (VUP-19) will operate Triton to further develop the concept of operations and fleet learning associated with operating a high-altitude, long-endurance system in the maritime domain.

«The MQ-4C Triton has already had a tremendous positive impact on operations in United States Indo-Pacific Command (USINDOPACOM) and will continue to provide unprecedented maritime intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities which are especially critical to national interests with the increased focus in the Pacific», Mackin said.

Triton is the first high altitude, long endurance aircraft that can conduct persistent Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) missions to complement the P-8 in the maritime domain. The Navy plans to deploy Triton to five orbits worldwide.

 

General Characteristics

Primary Function Persistent Maritime ISR
Builder Northrop Grumman
Propulsion Rolls-Royce AE3007H
Endurance 24 + hours
Length 47.6 feet/14.5 meters
Wingspan 130.9 feet/39.9 meters
Height 15.4 feet/4.7 meters
Speed 320 knots/368 mph/593 km/h
Crew Five per ground station (Air Vehicle Operator, Tactical Coordinator, 2 Mission Payload Operators, SIGINT coordinator)

 

Contested environment

The U.S. Army successfully engaged a cruise missile target in a highly contested electronic attack environment during a developmental flight test using the Northrop Grumman Corporation Integrated Air and Missile Defense Battle Command System (IBCS).

IBCS
The latest flight test integrated the widest variety of sensors to date on the IFCN for an IBCS test, including one Marine Corps G/ATOR, two Army Sentinel radars, one Army Patriot radar and two U.S. Air Force F-35 Lightning II fighter aircraft

The test at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico demonstrated the integration of IBCS and the U.S. Marine Corps AN/TPS-80 Ground/Air Task-Oriented Radar (G/ATOR) system, also manufactured by Northrop Grumman. The flight test incorporated first-time live testing and demonstration of a Joint Track Manager Capability (JTMC) which provided a bridge between IBCS and the Navy’s Cooperative Engagement Capability (CEC), enabling the sharing of G/ATOR track data on the IBCS Integrated Fire Control Network (IFCN). With support from Lockheed Martin, the flight test architecture also incorporated two F-35 Lightning II combat aircraft integrated on the IFCN with on board sensors contributing to the IBCS developed joint composite track used to perform the engagement.

«The integration of additional sensors from multiple services continues to show the power inherent in the IBCS architecture and design to incorporate and integrate joint sensors across multiple domains», said Christine Harbison, vice president and general manager, combat systems and mission readiness, Northrop Grumman. «By enabling joint operation and utilizing multiple sensors operating in various bands, IBCS was able to operate through the electronic attack environment so soldiers can identify, track and ultimately intercept the threat».

Two surrogate cruise missiles were launched in the test, one performing the electronic attack mission to disrupt radar performance, and the other flying a threat profile targeting friendly assets. Soldiers of the 3-6 Air and Missile Defense Test Detachment used IBCS to track the surrogate cruise missile targets, identify the threatening missile, and launch a Patriot Advanced Capability Three (PAC-3) interceptor.

The latest flight test success integrated the widest variety of sensors to date on the IFCN for an IBCS test, including one Marine Corps G/ATOR, two Army Sentinel radars, one Army Patriot radar and two U.S. Air Force F-35 fighter aircraft.

The Gallium Nitride-based AN/TPS-80 G/ATOR is a digital, software-defined advanced Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) multi-mission radar that provides comprehensive real time, full-sector, 360-degree situational tracking against a broad array of threats.

This was the eighth of eight successful developmental or operational flight tests performed with the IBCS program. The test was conducted as risk reduction prior to beginning the Initial Operational Test & Evaluation (IOT&E) phase this fall. IOT&E is a comprehensive test of IBCS system performance which will be conducted under realistic operational conditions prior to system employment. The IOT&E informs a Department of Defense and U.S. Army initial operational capability decision.

Northrop Grumman is pioneering joint all-domain command and control with IBCS. The system’s resilient, open, modular, scalable architecture is foundational to deploying a truly integrated network of all available assets in the battlespace, regardless of source, service or domain. IBCS enables the efficient and affordable integration of current and future systems, including assets deployed over IP-enabled networks, counter-UAS systems, 4th- and 5th-generation aircraft, space-based sensors and more. It senses, identifies, tracks and defeats evolving air and missile threats, enabling revolutionary «all-domain, every sensor, best effector» operations.

Northrop Grumman solves the toughest problems in space, aeronautics, defense and cyberspace to meet the ever evolving needs of our customers worldwide. Our 90,000 employees define possible every day using science, technology and engineering to create and deliver advanced systems, products and services.

First Crew Module

Northrop Grumman Corporation has finalized a contract with NASA to provide the Habitation and Logistics Outpost (HALO) module for NASA’s Gateway. Under the $935 million contract, Northrop Grumman will complete the design and development activity currently underway and will also be responsible for integrating HALO with the Power and Propulsion Element provided by Maxar Technologies.

HALO
Artist illustration of Northrop Grumman’s HALO module and the Power Propulsion Element which form the first critical component of NASA’s Gateway

HALO will be deployed in lunar orbit as the first crew module of the NASA Gateway, a space station orbiting the moon providing vital support for long-term human exploration of the lunar surface and deep space. The HALO module represents a critical component of NASA’s Gateway serving as both a crew habitat and docking hub for cislunar spacecraft, or spacecraft that navigate between the Earth and the moon. HALO will feature three docking ports for visiting spacecraft and other lunar support vehicles.

«By leveraging our active Cygnus production line, Northrop Grumman can uniquely provide an affordable and reliable HALO module, in the timeframe needed to support NASA’s Artemis program», said Steve Krein, vice president, civil and commercial satellites, Northrop Grumman. «Our team looks forward to continuing our collaboration with NASA in order to overcome the technical challenges associated with the harsh radiation and thermal environment of lunar space, as well as the unique challenge of hosting visiting crews for extended durations in this environment».

Previously, Northrop Grumman was awarded a contract to fund work through the Preliminary Design Review of HALO. This review, completed in May, confirmed the vehicle’s design and satisfied NASA’s overall Gateway requirements for the mission, including safety and reliability.

Under the new contract, Northrop Grumman, along with its industry partners and suppliers, will be working towards a Critical Design Review in the spring of 2022 and delivery of the HALO module to the launch site in 2024.

From the first lunar lander to the space shuttle boosters, to supplying the International Space Station with vital cargo, Northrop Grumman has pioneered new products and ideas that have been put into orbit, on the moon, and in deep space for more than 50 years. As a part of NASA’s Artemis program, we are building on our mission heritage with new innovations to enable NASA to return humans to the moon, with the ultimate goal of human exploration of Mars.

Northrop Grumman solves the toughest problems in space, aeronautics, defense and cyberspace to meet the ever evolving needs of our customers worldwide. Our 90,000 employees define possible every day using science, technology and engineering to create and deliver advanced systems, products and services.

Navigation Technology

The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) is excited to announce that the Navigation Technology Satellite-3 (NTS-3) satellite navigation program is closer in the development of the spacecraft for its in-space demonstration, thanks to the delivery of its bus that will carry it to space in 2023.

Navigation Technology Satellite-3 (NTS-3)
The ESPAStar-D bus that will be integrated into the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Navigation Technology Satellite-3. The bus, which will serve as the body of spacecraft, was built at Northrop Grumman’s facility in Gilbert, Arizona. NTS-3 is scheduled for launch in 2023 (Courtesy photo/Northrop Grumman)

In 2019, the U.S. Air Force designated NTS-3 as one of three Vanguard programs, which are priority initiatives to deliver new, game-changing capabilities for national defense. The NTS-3 mission is to advance technologies to responsively mitigate interference to Position, Navigation and Timing (PNT) capabilities, and increase system resiliency for the U.S. Space Force’s Global Positioning System military, civil and commercial users.

Northrop Grumman Corporation recently delivered an ESPAStar-D spacecraft bus to L3Harris Technologies of Palm Bay, Florida in support of the NTS-3 mission scheduled to launch to geosynchronous orbit from Cape Canaveral in 2023.

The AFRL Transformational Capabilities Office at Wright-Patterson AFB and Space Vehicles Directorate, located at Kirtland Air Force Base (AFB) in Albuquerque, New Mexico, are in partnership with the two industry companies for the bus development and integration.

«This is the first time an ESPAStar bus has been built and delivered as a commercially-available commodity», said Arlen Biersgreen, the NTS-3 program manager. «NTS-3 is using a unique acquisition model for the ESPAStar line that fully exercises the commercial nature of Northrop Grumman’s product line, in order to provide the bus to another defense contractor for payload integration using standard interfaces».

The ESPAStar-D bus, built in Northrop Grumman’s satellite manufacturing facility in Gilbert, Arizona, includes critical subsystems such as communications, power, attitude determination and control, in addition to configurable structures to mount payloads.

A June 2021 press release from Northrop Grumman explains the company built the ESPAStar-D bus «to provide affordable, rapid access to space», and that its configuration, using an Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) Secondary Payload Adapter (ESPA), allows multiple separate experimental payloads to be stacked together on one launch vehicle.

It should be noted that AFRL developed the ESPA ring – a technology that revolutionized the transport of space experiments, allowing for lower-cost and more frequent «rides» to space, for government and industry users.

«The transfer of the bus allows L3Harris to move forward building the NTS-3 spacecraft», said 2nd Lt. Charles Schramka, the program’s deputy principal investigator. «L3Harris will perform tests and begin integrating the NTS-3 PNT payload onto the bus. Together the bus and payload will form the NTS-3 spacecraft».

Following L3Harris’s work, AFRL will test the bus with the NTS-3 ground control and user equipment segments, and will perform its own integrated testing on the overall NTS-3 system architecture.

Besides the bus delivery, there are other advances in the program.

Schramka said, «This month we took delivery of an experimental receiver known as Global Navigation Satellite System Test Architecture (GNSSTA), developed by our sister AFRL unit, the Sensors Directorate at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio and Mitre Corporation. GNSSTA is a reprogrammable software defined signal receiver that allows us to receive the legacy GPS and advanced signals generated by NTS-3».

AFRL will continue its integration efforts through 2022 to ensure all parts are working together for the fall of 2023 NTS-3 launch.

«With the delivery of the bus we are entering into the next phase of payload integration», Biersgreen said. «These recent breakthroughs allow the program to continue to move forward and prepare for launch of the first U.S. integrated satellite navigation experiment in over 45 years».

Terracotta sensor

Northrop Grumman Corporation has successfully flight demonstrated its new Terracotta sensor – a fully-digital Open Mission Systems (OMS)-compliant wideband Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA).

Terracotta sensor
Terracotta’s nearly 200 wideband digital channels can be molded cooperatively or segmented for unique purposes

The flight test was a follow-on to successful ground and flight demonstrations of Terracotta conducted last fall. This most recent flight verified Terracotta’s ability to simultaneously perform active and passive radio frequency capabilities. Terracotta’s nearly 200 wideband digital channels can be molded cooperatively or segmented for unique purposes, including electronic warfare, airborne early warning radar, active and passive sensing, and communications.

«As a fully-digital multifunction sensor with a wide operating bandwidth, Terracotta can seamlessly provide adaptive spectrum maneuverability», said Paul Kalafos, vice president, surveillance and electromagnetic maneuver warfare. «The sensor’s architecture is easily scaled and configured for many applications and systems across all domains. It represents a key enabling technology for joint all domain operations».

Unlike traditional sensors, multifunction apertures consolidate multiple capabilities into a single sensor, decreasing both the number of apertures needed and the size, weight, and power requirements for the advanced capabilities. Sophisticated multifunction apertures like Terracotta can deploy several functions simultaneously.

OMS compliance offers an interface solution based on open architecture design allowing customers to rapidly add new or improved capabilities, regardless of supplier, at a reduced cost. Northrop Grumman plans to integrate a combination of OMS/Open Communication Systems sensors and software-defined radios across multiple platforms, networks and nodes to address driving mission needs and ensure multi-domain interoperability. To learn more about Northrop Grumman’s role in advancing the DOD’s Joint All Domain Command and Control (JADC2) vision, visit the company’s website.

Northrop Grumman solves the toughest problems in space, aeronautics, defense and cyberspace to meet the ever evolving needs of our customers worldwide. Our 90,000 employees define possible every day using science, technology and engineering to create and deliver advanced systems, products and services.

SEWIP Block 3

Northrop Grumman Corporation has delivered the AN/SLQ-32(V)7 Surface Electronic Warfare Improvement Program (SEWIP) Block 3 Engineering and Development Model (EDM) to the U.S. Navy for land-based testing. The official transfer was marked at an event with company and U.S. Navy program officials at Northrop Grumman’s systems integration facility in Baltimore, Maryland.

SEWIP Block 3 System
The AN/SLQ-32(V)7 SEWIP Block 3 system shipped to the U.S. Navy for formal land-based testing at the Naval Sea Systems Command Surface Combat Systems Center in Wallops Island, Virginia

«The AN/SLQ-32(V)7 EDM delivery to the U.S. Navy for continued government land-based testing following formal qualification testing is a significant achievement for the SEWIP Block 3 program», said Captain Jason Hall, the U.S. Navy’s Major Program Manager of Above Water Sensors and Lasers. «SEWIP Block 3 provides a critical electronic warfare capability to the Fleet to pace the evolving anti-ship missile threat».

Northrop Grumman successfully completed SEWIP Block 3 system integration and formal qualification testing as part of the engineering, manufacturing and development contract. This milestone indicates that the system is ready to transition to the U.S. Navy for formal land-based testing at the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) Surface Combat Systems Center (SCSC) in Wallops Island, Virginia.

«This delivery represents the next step in a multi-year effort to take SEWIP from the laboratory to the hands of the warfighter», said Mike Meaney, vice president, land and maritime sensors, Northrop Grumman. «Providing the comprehensive hardware-defined, software-enabled system to the U.S. Navy proves out the final design and signifies the end of the engineering, manufacturing and development phase».

Northrop Grumman solves the toughest problems in space, aeronautics, defense and cyberspace to meet the ever evolving needs of our customers worldwide. Our 90,000 employees define possible every day using science, technology and engineering to create and deliver advanced systems, products and services.