Tag Archives: Northrop Grumman

24-hour mission

A NATO RQ-4D Phoenix took off towards the Black Sea and returned 24-hours later to home air base in Sigonella, Italy on Tuesday, November 16, 2021.

RQ-4D Phoenix
A NATO RQ-4D Phoenix took off towards the Black Sea and returned 24-hours later to home air base in Sigonella, Italy on Tuesday, November 16, 2021 (Photo courtesy of NATO AGS Force)

This important step to Full Operating Capability for the NATO Allied Ground Surveillance (AGS) Force has been successfully achieved. The AGS team conducted its first mission of 24-hour duration demonstrating the team’s continuous efforts in intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance and therefore enhancing a vital Allied capability.

«I am very proud of the teamwork accomplished», said Brigadier General Houston Cantwell, Commander of the NATO AGS Force. «With this 24-hour mission, we have proven that we are on the right track to Full Operational Capability and are a valuable asset to NATO».

The challenge of this long mission focused on the airmen and soldiers operating the system; in particular their ability to hand over smoothly between shifts. The sensor operators, who are responsible for controlling the Synthetic Aperture radar, were also changed at the same time as the pilots.

In order for the unmanned aircraft to fly its mission safely, it is not only necessary to have well-trained pilots who are replaced after a certain period of time, but also the IT specialists who ensure that the satellite and communication link is guaranteed between the Main Operation Base in Sigonella and the NATO RQ-4D Phoenix.

At present, the multinational NATO AGS Force comprised of approximately 375 personnel from 24 nations.

Space Sensor

Northrop Grumman Corporation recently completed the critical design review of the Hypersonic and Ballistic Tracking Space Sensor (HBTSS) prototype for the U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA). The review establishes the company’s technical approach for precise, timely sensor coverage to defeat ballistic and hypersonic missiles.

HBTSS
Hypersonic and Ballistic Tracking Space Sensor satellites will provide continuous tracking and handoff to enable targeting of enemy missiles launched from land, sea or air

HBTSS satellites will provide continuous tracking and handoff to enable targeting of enemy missiles launched from land, sea or air. They are a critical part of the Overhead Persistent Infrared (OPIR) multi-layered constellation of satellites, which can sense heat signatures to detect and track missiles from their earliest stages of launch through interception.

«When it comes to national safety, there’s no room for error», said Sarah Willoughby, vice president, OPIR and geospatial systems, Northrop Grumman. «This critical design review puts Northrop Grumman on track to deliver a vital component of our missile defense architecture to keep the U.S. and its allies safe against hypersonic threats».

HBTSS satellites are also designed to track threats with near global reach when prompted by other OPIR systems, well before they come into view of U.S. ground-based defenses.

Northrop Grumman received a $153 million contract from the MDA earlier this year for the Phase IIB portion of the HBTSS program and is on schedule to deliver the HBTSS prototype in 2023. After the HBTSS prototype is delivered, the company will conduct an on-orbit test to demonstrate its ability to continuously track and rapidly process its observations of hypersonic threats, as well as its ability to effectively hand off the information so the missile is intercepted.

Northrop Grumman is a technology company, focused on global security and human discovery. Our pioneering solutions equip our customers with capabilities they need to connect, advance and protect the U.S. and its allies. Driven by a shared purpose to solve our customers’ toughest problems, our 90,000 employees define possible every day.

JSTARS for Korea

Northrop Grumman Corporation signed cooperative agreements with LIG Nex1 and Huneed as the company develops its Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System – Korea (JSTARS-K) solution for the Republic of Korea’s Joint Moving Target Surveillance and Control Aircraft (JMTSCA) requirement.

JSTARS-K
Northrop Grumman’s JSTARS-K will leverage the company’s 30+ years of BMC2 mission domain expertise as a prime systems integrator combined with the G550 platform. Cooperative agreements with Korean aerospace and defense businesses will enhance interoperability with existing Republic of Korea systems

The cooperative agreements are memoranda of understanding to deliver airborne Battle Management Command and Control (BMC2). Northrop Grumman is bringing its expertise in advanced technology, software, prime systems integration, advanced sensors and mission domain to deliver a low risk airborne BMC2 capability. Northrop Grumman’s JSTARS-K will incorporate the unique capabilities and talents of each cooperative organization to deliver the best value solution.

«Northrop Grumman has more than 30 years of leadership in advanced airborne BMC2 capability and mission expertise; we have continued to develop and deliver new technologies to outpace evolving threats», said Janice Zilch, vice president, multi-domain command and control programs, Northrop Grumman. «With these cooperative agreements, we will deliver industry-leading capability powered with local content and talent to the Republic of Korea».

Northrop Grumman is a technology company, focused on global security and human discovery. Our pioneering solutions equip our customers with capabilities they need to connect, advance and protect the U.S. and its allies. Driven by a shared purpose to solve our customers’ toughest problems, our 90,000 employees define possible every day.

Scramjet-powered missile

DARPA, in partnership with the U.S. Air Force, completed a free flight test of its Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapon Concept (HAWC) last week. The missile, built by Raytheon Technologies, was released from an aircraft seconds before its Northrop Grumman scramjet (supersonic combustion ramjet) engine kicked on. The engine compressed incoming air mixed with its hydrocarbon fuel and began igniting that fast-moving airflow mixture, propelling the cruiser at a speed greater than Mach 5/3,836 mph/6174 km/h (five times the speed of sound).

Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapon Concept (HAWC)
Artist’s concept of Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapons Concept (HAWC) missile (Courtesy: Raytheon Missiles & Defense)

The HAWC vehicle operates best in oxygen-rich atmosphere, where speed and maneuverability make it difficult to detect in a timely way. It could strike targets much more quickly than subsonic missiles and has significant kinetic energy even without high explosives.

«The HAWC free flight test was a successful demonstration of the capabilities that will make hypersonic cruise missiles a highly effective tool for our warfighters», said Andrew «Tippy» Knoedler, HAWC program manager in DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office. «This brings us one step closer to transitioning HAWC to a program of record that offers next generation capability to the U.S military».

Goals of the mission were: vehicle integration and release sequence, safe separation from the launch aircraft, booster ignition and boost, booster separation and engine ignition, and cruise. All primary test objectives were met.

The achievement builds on pioneering scramjet projects, including work on the X-30 National Aero-Space Plane as well as unmanned flights of NASA’s X-43 vehicles and the U.S. Air Force’s X-51 Waverider.

«HAWC’s successful free flight test is the culmination of years of successful government and industry partnership, where a single, purpose-driven team accomplished an extremely challenging goal through intense collaboration», Knoedler added. «This historic flight would not have been possible without the dedication of industry, U.S. Air Force, and U.S. Navy flight test personnel who persevered through the pandemic to make the magic happen».

The HAWC flight test data will help validate affordable system designs and manufacturing approaches that will field air-breathing hypersonic missiles to our warfighters in the near future.

Test Aircraft in Flow

The B-21 Raider took center stage at the Air Force Association’s Air, Space and Cyber Conference, with the latest update on program progress being delivered by newly appointed Secretary of the Air Force, Frank Kendall, during his State of the Forces address Monday morning.

B-21 Raider
Progress continues on the B-21 Raider with five test aircraft now in production at Northrop Grumman’s facility in Palmdale, California (Shown here is an artist rendering of the B-21 Raider)

«As I speak, there are now five test aircraft being manufactured on the B-21 Raider production line at Air Force Plant 42 in Palmdale, California. This investment in meaningful military capabilities that project power and hold targets at risk anywhere in the world addresses my No. 1 priority», said Kendall, referring to Air and Space Forces’ ability to continuously deter and defeat threats.

Mr. Randall Walden, director of the Department of the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office and Program Executive Officer of the B-21 Raider Program, had previously confirmed to Air Force Magazine in January that two test aircraft were making their way down the production line at Northrop Grumman’s facility in Palmdale. According to Doug Young, vice president and general manager of Northrop Grumman’s Strike Division, this significant progress can be credited to a strong customer partnership, early application of digital tools and a talented, dedicated workforce.

«We have a nationwide industry team who has shown tremendous dedication and grit over the past 18 months», Young said. «Combined with our extensive collaboration and transparency with our Air Force customer, and the success we’ve had in bringing digital tools into our design and production processes, the B-21 Raider program is leading the way in many respects».

The application of new digital tools and processes early in the Engineering and Manufacturing Development (EMD) phase has been a focus of recently released information on the program. The use of augmented and virtual reality, and ground and airborne test beds have been recently cited as enablers of program progress and risk reduction.

«The integration of our digital design capabilities with our advanced manufacturing technologies means we’re working smarter and faster to bring next-generation technologies to life», said Chris Daughters, Aeronautics sector vice president of Engineering. «Our ability to continually reduce risk throughout EMD by utilizing these transformative digital capabilities is going to pay dividends throughout the full lifecycle of the aircraft».

When it comes to delivering a multilayered response to threats, the B-21 Raider will be both a symbol and source of America’s strength.

«With the capability to hold targets at risk anywhere in the world, this weapon system is critical to our national security», said Young. «Northrop Grumman is committed to delivering the B-21 Raider to the warfighter on time to ensure America can project its power globally for decades to come».

Payload for DARPA

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Blackjack program has awarded Northrop Grumman Corporation a contract for Phase 2 development of an advanced, software-defined Positioning, Navigation and Timing (PNT) payload, with options to build units destined for space flight.

Blackjack program
Northrop Grumman’s advanced, software-enabled positioning, navigation and timing payload has been developed to keep forces on target in difficult environments against advanced threats – even if the availability of existing satellite navigation systems are degraded or denied

The PNT payload work is led by Northrop Grumman’s Future PNT Systems Operating Unit in Woodland Hills. The team supports the DARPA Tactical Technology Office’s goal of achieving capable, resilient and affordable national security space capabilities from Low Earth Orbit (LEO).

«Northrop Grumman’s software-defined Positioning, Navigation and Timing technology will offer military users an agile new signal from LEO that is not dependent on existing satellite navigation systems», said Doctor Nicholas Paraskevopoulos, chief technology officer and sector vice president, emerging capabilities development, Northrop Grumman. «Warfighters depend on assured PNT for traditional missions like force projection and joint operations, but also for emerging autonomous and distributed missions».

The PNT payload features Northrop Grumman’s Software Enabled Reconfigurable Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) Embedded Architecture for Navigation and Timing (SERGEANT) capability. The Phase 2 development effort is valued at $13.3 million if all options are exercised through emulation, critical design and build.

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.

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.