Tag Archives: Northrop Grumman

Anechoic chamber

An MQ-4C Triton is lifted inside Patuxent River’s anechoic chamber on August 12, 2015 for ElectroMagnetic Compatibility (EMC) testing. This event marked the first time that an unmanned aircraft inside the chamber was controlled from an external ground control station. Triton’s EMC testing will continue for the next eight weeks to verify the aircraft’s subsystems can operate without interfering with each other.

The program portfolio includes the MQ-4C Triton UAS and the Broad Area Maritime Surveillance – Demonstrator (BAMS-D), advanced sensors and technology, and international programs
The program portfolio includes the MQ-4C Triton UAS and the Broad Area Maritime Surveillance – Demonstrator (BAMS-D), advanced sensors and technology, and international programs

 

MQ-4C Triton

Northrop Grumman’s MQ-4C Triton Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) provides real-time Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance over vast ocean and coastal regions. Supporting missions up to 24 hours, the high-altitude UAS is equipped with a sensor suite that provides a 360-degree view of its surroundings at a radius of over 2,000 nautical miles/3,704 km.

Triton builds on elements of the Global Hawk UAS while incorporating reinforcements to the airframe and wing, along with de-icing and lightning protection systems. These capabilities allow the aircraft to descend through cloud layers to gain a closer view of ships and other targets at sea when needed. The current sensor suite allows ships to be tracked over time by gathering information on their speed, location and classification.

Built to support the U.S. Navy’s Broad Area Maritime Surveillance program, Triton will support a wide range of intelligence gathering and reconnaissance missions, maritime patrol and search and rescue. The Navy’s program of record calls for 68 aircraft to be built.

The Persistent Maritime Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Program Office (PMA-262), located at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, is responsible for the development, production, fielding and sustainment of the Navy's high-altitude, long-endurance UAS
The Persistent Maritime Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Program Office (PMA-262), located at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, is responsible for the development, production, fielding and sustainment of the Navy’s high-altitude, long-endurance UAS

 

Key Features

  • Provides persistent maritime ISR at a mission radius of 2,000 NM/3,704 km; 24 hours/7 days per week with 80% Effective Time On Station (ETOS)
  • Land-based air vehicle and sensor command and control
  • Afloat Level II payload sensor data via line-of-sight
  • Dual redundant flight controls and surfaces
  • 51,000-hour airframe life
  • Due Regard Radar for safe separation
  • Anti/de-ice, bird strike, and lightning protection
  • Communications bandwidth management
  • Commercial off-the-shelf open architecture mission control system
  • Net-ready interoperability solution

 

Payload (360-degree Field of Regard)

Multi-Function Active Sensor Active Electronically Steered Array (MFAS AESA) radar:

  • 2D AESA;
  • Maritime and air-to-ground modes;
  • Long-range detection and classification of targets.

MTS-B multi-spectral targeting system:

  • Electro-optical/infrared;
  • Auto-target tracking;
  • High resolution at multiple field-of-views;
  • Full motion video.

AN/ZLQ-1 Electronic Support Measures:

  • All digital;
  • Specific Emitter Identification.

Automatic Identification System:

  • Provides information received from VHF broadcasts on maritime vessel movements.
PMA-262 is overseen by the Program Executive Office for Unmanned Aviation and Strike Weapons (PEO(U&W))
PMA-262 is overseen by the Program Executive Office for Unmanned Aviation and Strike Weapons (PEO(U&W))

 

Specifications

Wingspan 130.9 feet/39.9 m
Length 47.6 feet/14.5 m
Height 15.4 feet/4.6 m
Gross Take-Off Weight (GTOW) 32,250 lbs/14,628 kg
Maximum Internal Payload 3,200 lbs/1,452 kg
Maximum External Payload 2,400 lbs/1,089 kg
Self-Deploy 8,200 NM/9,436 miles/15,186 km
Maximum Altitude 56,500 feet/17,220 m
Maximum Velocity, TAS (True Air Speed) 331 knots/381 mph/613 km/h
Maximum Endurance 24 hours

 

MQ-4C Triton Unmanned Aircraft System flies from Palmdale, California, to Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland

 

Anti-Missile System

Northrop Grumman Corporation has been awarded a delivery order from the Defense Microelectronics Activity (DMEA) to deliver an advanced anti-missile system to the Air National Guard (ANG) and Air Force Reserve Command (AFRC).

The system benefits from the LAIRCM Block 30 configuration, which incorporates the latest system processor technology, infrared missile warning sensors, the Viper laser and a new control interface unit
The system benefits from the LAIRCM Block 30 configuration, which incorporates the latest system processor technology, infrared missile warning sensors, the Viper laser and a new control interface unit

Under the terms of the $31.7 million contract, Northrop Grumman will deliver three modernized third-generation pods, which are based on the Northrop Grumman Guardian system that was developed for the Department of Homeland Security, for the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve Command’s KC-135 aircraft. The company will also support government flight tests and provide training. The work is expected to be completed by early 2017.

The third-generation pod benefits from the Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasures (LAIRCM) Block 30 configuration, which incorporates the latest system processor technology, infrared missile warning sensors, the Viper laser and a new control interface unit.

«This open architecture configuration, with its increased capability and reliability, provides the next level of aircraft protection», said Carl Smith, vice president, infrared countermeasure programs, Land and Self Protection Systems Division, Northrop Grumman. «Block 30 builds on the company’s more than 15 years of experience in battle-proven laser-based infrared countermeasures. The third-generation role-fit pod configuration offers reliable, flexible protection that is ideally suited to numerous military and commercial aircraft».

LAIRCM System
LAIRCM System

The third-generation pod provides 360-degree protection against a wide range of missile threats. When LAIRCM detects a Man-Portable Air-Defense System (MANPADS) launch, it tracks the incoming missile and uses a laser beam to jam the missile’s guidance system, causing it to miss the target aircraft. The entire process occurs in just a few seconds and requires no action on the part of the aircraft crew. The system includes a multiband laser pointer/tracker and four infrared missile-warning sensors. The system is contained almost entirely in a single pod that mounts to the underside of the fuselage and can be moved easily from one aircraft to another, as needed.

Northrop Grumman’s various infrared countermeasure systems are now installed or scheduled for installation on more than 1,000 military aircraft around the world, protecting 55 different types of large fixed-wing transports and rotary-wing platforms from infrared missile attacks.

All Viper Mid-IR Laser components, including all wavelength conversion and beam- forming optics controller and power supply, fit in a 13-inch/33-cm diameter × 2-inch/5-cm high chassis, weighing less than 10 pounds/4.5 kg
All Viper Mid-IR Laser components, including all wavelength conversion and beam- forming optics controller and power supply, fit in a 13-inch/33-cm diameter × 2-inch/5-cm high chassis, weighing less than 10 pounds/4.5 kg

NATO’s First Hawk

Expanding NATO’s joint Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) capability, Northrop Grumman Corporation and its industry partners together with NATO leaders unveiled the first NATO Alliance Ground Surveillance (AGS) aircraft to an audience of customers, distinguished guests, employees and community leaders on June 4, 2015 in Palmdale, California.

Northrop Grumman, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) officials and industry team representatives unveiled the first NATO Alliance Ground Surveillance (AGS) aircraft in Palmdale, California (Photo courtesy of Northrop Grumman)
Northrop Grumman, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) officials and industry team representatives unveiled the first NATO Alliance Ground Surveillance (AGS) aircraft in Palmdale, California (Photo courtesy of Northrop Grumman)

The unmanned aircraft, a wide area surveillance Global Hawk, is part of a broader system of systems solution that will advance the Alliance’s evolving ISR needs during a full range of NATO’s missions such as protection of ground troops and civilian populations, border control and maritime safety, the fight against terrorism, crisis management and humanitarian assistance in natural disasters.

«This marks a significant step forward in achieving NATO’s goal of acquiring NATO-owned and operated AGS Core Capability», said Erling Wang, chairman of the NATO AGS Management Organization (NAGSMO). «What you see here today is the result of one of the commitments made at the 2012 NATO Summit – to bring this advanced and critical persistent ISR capability to the Alliance to help ensure we can continue to address the range of challenges our member and other allied nations face».

The NATO-owned and operated program comprises five air vehicles and fixed, mobile and transportable ground stations. Northrop Grumman’s primary industrial team includes Airbus Defence and Space (Germany), Selex ES (Italy) and Kongsberg (Norway), as well as leading defense companies from all participating countries.

The industries of the 15 participating nations (Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and the United States), are each contributing to the delivery of the AGS system. All 28 Alliance nations will take part in the long-term support of the program.

Northrop Grumman RQ-4 NATO AGS UAV
Northrop Grumman RQ-4 NATO AGS UAV

«We are establishing the necessary ground stations, command and control systems, and training and logistics support services at the NATO AGS main operating base at Sigonella Air Base in Italy», stated Jim Edge, general manager of the NATO AGS Management Agency.

With the ability to fly for up to 30 hours at a time, the high-altitude long-endurance system will provide NATO leaders with persistent global situational awareness. The aircraft is equipped with leading-edge technology, including the Multi-Platform Radar Technology Insertion Program (MP-RTIP) sensor. The MP-RTIP will provide critical data to commanders during operations in any weather, day or night. The NATO AGS system will also be able to fuse sensor data, continuously detect and track moving objects and provide detailed imagery.

«The level of collaboration required to bring together successfully so many international partners in the development of this tremendous system of systems capability for NATO speaks to the commitment and strength of the trans-Atlantic relationships we have built with our key partners, to deliver what is truly a European program», said Janis Pamiljans, sector vice president and general manager, unmanned systems, Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems.

Northrop Grumman is a leading global security company providing innovative systems, products and solutions in unmanned systems, cyber, Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C4ISR), and logistics and modernization to government and commercial customers worldwide.

 

NATO AGS Programme

The airborne entity is based on a modified RQ-4 Block 40 High-Altitude, Long-Endurance Unmanned Air Vehicle (HALE UAV), enhanced to support NATO specific interoperability and communications requirements. The UAV is equipped with state-of-the-art, multi-mode, Multi-Platform Radar Technology Insertion Program (MP-RTIP) ground surveillance radar sensor [Providing concurrent terrestrial and maritime Ground Moving Target Indicator (GMTI) and Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) information in all-weather, day or night operations], enhanced with an extensive suite of network-centric enabled Line-Of-Sight (LOS) and Beyond-Line-Of-Sight (BLOS) long-range, wide-band data links.

First of five NATO Alliance Ground Surveillance System aircraft
First of five NATO Alliance Ground Surveillance System aircraft

The European-sourced ground entities include a number of mobile and transportable ground stations, all managed by the Mission Operation Support (MOS), providing mission planning, connectivity, data processing and exploitation capabilities. In addition, they provide an interface between the AGS Core system and a wide range of interoperable interfaces for data exchange with interoperable NATO/National C4ISR systems.

The Air Vehicle Missions Command and Control (AVMC2) provides overall mission command and control of multiple air vehicles, coordination with interoperable NATO and national Command and Control, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C2ISR) systems, and coordination of the ground entities through the MOS across geographically dispersed theatres of operations. This AVMC2 capability provides multiple UAV command and control, theatre-wide Battle Management, Command and Control (BMC2) and sensor and information management within an integrated ground-based Operations Centre.

The MOS and AVMC2, along with the training and logistics support elements, will be located at the Main Operating Base (MOB) at Sigonella Air Base in Italy.

The AGS Core provides unprecedented real-time airborne ground surveillance and situational awareness information throughout the full range of operations for NATO and the nations. A system of systems, the AGS Core consists of air, ground, mission operations and support elements, performing all-weather, persistent wide-area terrestrial and maritime surveillance.

Using an advanced radar sensor, augmented with off-board Electronic Support Measures (ESM) and Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) sensors and Full Motion Video (FMV) information, the AGS Core fuses sensor data, continuously detects and tracks moving objects, and provides object emission profiles as well as imagery of stationary objects throughout the observed areas.

Each AGS Core ground entity and the AVMC2 exchanges NATO standard C2ISR data with the interoperable NATO and national systems, further expanding the situational awareness available to ground, maritime, and air commanders in support of NATO missions – anywhere in the world.

The AGS Core, supplemented by national systems, will provide unprecedented situational awareness to different levels of command in support of NATO forces engaged in the full range of missions.

Programme underway:

  • Contract Award at NATO Summit 2012;
  • Initial Operating Capability 2017;
  • Full Operational Capability 2018.
The NATO AGS aircraft will be a major contribution to NATO's Joint Intelligence, Surveillance & Reconnaissance capability and a key building block for NATO Network Enabled Capability operations (Photo courtesy of Northrop Grumman)
The NATO AGS aircraft will be a major contribution to NATO’s Joint Intelligence, Surveillance & Reconnaissance capability and a key building block for NATO Network Enabled Capability operations (Photo courtesy of Northrop Grumman)

 

Specifications

Wingspan 130.9 feet/39.9 m
Length 47.6 feet/14.5 m
Height 15.4 feet/4.7 m
Gross Take-Off Weight (GTOW) 32,250 lbs/14,628 kg
Power Plant Rolls-Royce AE3007H turbofan engine
Thrust 8,290 lbs/36.8 kN/3,752.5 kgf
Maximum Altitude 60,000 feet/18.3 km
Payload 3,000 lbs/1,360 kg
Loiter Velocity 310 knots TAS/357 mph/574 km/h
Ferry Range 12,300 NM/14,155 miles/22,780 km
On-Station Endurance Exceeds 24 hours
Maximum Endurance 30 hours

 

NATO Alliance Ground Surveillance (AGS)

Swappable package

Changing, integrating or upgrading sensors on a military aircraft can be an expensive, time-consuming and complex endeavor. Northrop Grumman Corporation’s new OpenPod sensor system, unveiled at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., overcomes these challenges by making it possible for maintainers to swap sensors in theater.

The first swappable package for Northrop’s new OpenPod will be an IRST sensor provided by Italy’s Selex, but in future other sensors are to include LIDAR or datalinks (Northrop photo)
The first swappable package for Northrop’s new OpenPod will be an IRST sensor provided by Italy’s Selex, but in future other sensors are to include LIDAR or datalinks (Northrop photo)

The OpenPod system consists of line-replaceable units and a set of interchangeable sensors that can be swapped out in minutes. Enabled by open architecture principles, OpenPod is the first of its kind to accommodate a range of sensors with one pod.

«The battlespace can change quickly. OpenPod keeps the complexity of the mission in mind by allowing warfighters to match the sensors to the mission quickly, giving them flexibility they have never had before», said James Mocarski, vice president, Airborne Tactical Sensors business unit, Northrop Grumman. «When you have OpenPod, you can have Infra-Red Search and Track (IRST), you can have targeting, and you can have communications without having to acquire multiple pods. That gives our customers a significant affordability advantage».

OpenPod will be available with targeting and IRST packages at launch, followed by communications, Light Detection And Ranging (LIDAR), 5th-to-4th generation communications and other options in in the future. Because the pod allows for sensor changes without modifications to the aircraft or mission computer, OpenPod can be upgraded independent of the aircraft. That allows for more rapid and affordable upgrades and integration of new technologies.

OpenPod is the next step in sensor evolution for users of the AN/AAQ-28(V) LITENING family of advanced targeting systems. Any LITENING Targeting pod can be converted to an OpenPod, so operators can take full advantage of their existing investments, training and operational experience.

Opening a world of mission flexibility
Opening a world of mission flexibility

 

OpenPod: Enabled by open architecture

  • Building modular designs and disclosing data
  • Enabling competition and collaboration
  • Building interoperable joint warfighting applications – using OA frameworks
  • Identifying or developing reusable application software components & capabilities
  • Ensuring lifecycle affordability and planning for technology refresh

Next Generation of Podded Sensor Systems

Airborne Early Warning

The State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to Japan for E-2D Advanced Hawkeye Airborne Early Warning and Control Aircraft and associated equipment, parts and logistical support for an estimated cost of $1.7 billion. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) delivered the required certification notifying Congress of this possible sale on Jun 1, 2015.

The E-2D introduces a rotating, UHF-band, Lockheed Martin APY-9 radar designed to track objects as small as cruise missiles against the background clutter of a coastal environment
The E-2D introduces a rotating, UHF-band, Lockheed Martin APY-9 radar designed to track objects as small as cruise missiles against the background clutter of a coastal environment

The Government of Japan has requested a possible sale of:

  • four (4) Northrop Grumman E-2D Advanced Hawkeye (AHE) Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) aircraft;
  • ten (10) Rolls-Royce T56-A-427A engines (8 installed and 2 spares);
  • eight (8) Multifunction Information Distribution System Low Volume Terminals (MIDS-LVT);
  • four (4) Lockheed Martin APY-9 Radars;
  • modifications;
  • spare and repair parts;
  • support equipment;
  • publications and technical documentation;
  • personnel training and training equipment;
  • ferry services;
  • aerial refueling support;
  • S. Government and contractor logistics;
  • engineering and technical support services;
  • other related elements of logistics and program support.

The estimated cost is $1.7 billion.

A completely new radar featuring both mechanical and electronic scanning capabilities
A completely new radar featuring both mechanical and electronic scanning capabilities

This proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States. Japan is one of the major political and economic powers in East Asia and the Western Pacific and a key partner of the United States in ensuring peace and stability in that region. It is vital to the U.S. national interest to assist Japan in developing and maintaining a strong and ready self-defense capability. This proposed sale is consistent with U.S. foreign policy and national security objectives and the 1960 Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security.

The proposed sale of E-2D AHE aircraft will improve Japan’s ability to effectively provide homeland defense utilizing an AEW&C capability. Japan will use the E-2D AHE aircraft to provide AEW&C situational awareness of air and naval activity in the Pacific region and to augment its existing E-2C Hawkeye AEW&C fleet. Japan will have no difficulty absorbing these aircraft into its armed forces.

The proposed sale of these aircraft and support will not alter the basic military balance in the Pacific region.

The principal contractor will be Northrop Grumman Corporation Aerospace Systems in Melbourne, Florida. The acquisition and integration of all systems will be managed by the U.S. Navy’s Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR). There are no known offset agreements proposed in connection with this potential sale.

Fully Integrated «All Glass» Tactical Cockpit
Fully Integrated «All Glass» Tactical Cockpit

 

E-2D Advanced Hawkeye

The E-2D Advanced Hawkeye is a game changer in how the Navy will conduct battle management command and control. By serving as the «digital quarterback» to sweep ahead of strike, manage the mission, and keep our net-centric carrier battle groups out of harms way, the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye is the key to advancing the mission, no matter what it may be. The E-2D gives the warfighter expanded battlespace awareness, especially in the area of information operations delivering battle management, theater air and missile defense, and multiple sensor fusion capabilities in an airborne system.

Hardware with system characteristics that provides:

  • Substantial target processing capacity (>3,000 reports per second)
  • Three highly automated and common operator stations
  • High-capacity, flat-panel color high-resolution displays
  • Extensive video type selection (radar and identification friend/foe)
  • HF/VHF/UHF and satellite communications systems
  • Extensive data link capabilities
  • Inertial navigational system and global positioning system navigation and in-flight alignment
  • Integrated and centralized diagnostic system
  • Glass Cockpit allows software reconfigurable flight/mission displays
  • Cockpit – 4th tactical operator
  • Open architecture ensures rapid technology upgrades and customized configuration options
The Hawkeye provides all-weather airborne early warning, airborne battle management and command and control functions for the Carrier Strike Group and Joint Force Commander
The Hawkeye provides all-weather airborne early warning, airborne battle management and command and control functions for the Carrier Strike Group and Joint Force Commander

 

General Characteristics

Wingspan:                                              24.56 m/80 feet 7 in

Width, wings folded:                        8.94 m/29 feet 4 in

Length overall:                                    17.60 m/57 feet 8.75 in

Height overall:                                     5.58 m/18 feet 3.75 in

Diameter of rotodome:                  7.32 m/24 feet

Weight empty:                                     19,536 kg/43,068 lbs

Internal fuel:                                          5,624 kg/12,400 lbs

Takeoff gross weight:                       26,083 kg/57,500 lbs

Maximum level speed:                     648 km/h/350 knots/403 mph

Maximum cruise speed:                  602 km/h/325 knots/374 mph

Cruise speed:                                         474 km/h/256 knots/295 mph

Approach speed:                                  200 km/h/108 knots/124 mph

Service ceiling:                                      10,576 m/34,700 feet

Minimum takeoff distance:            410 m/1,346 feet ground roll

Minimum landing distance:            537 m/1,764 feet ground roll

Ferry range:                                             2,708 km/1,462 NM

Crew Members:                                    5

Power Plant:                                           2 × Rolls-Royce T56-A-427A, rated at 5,100 eshp each

Unrefueled:                                             >6 hours

In-flight refueling:                               12 hours

True 360-degree radar coverage provides uncompromised all-weather tracking and situational awareness
True 360-degree radar coverage provides uncompromised all-weather tracking and situational awareness

Final Operational

Australia now has the most advanced air battle space management capability in the world, with the Royal Australian Air Force’s Boeing E-7A Wedgetail aircraft achieving Final Operational Capability. The fleet of six Wedgetail aircraft reached the milestone this month with the entire capability, from physical aircraft to logistics, management, sustainment, facilities and training, now fully operational and able to support ongoing operations.

Several years after they first entered service, and after flying over 1,200 hours on combat missions, Australia’s six Boeing E-7 Wedgetail airborne early warning and control aircraft have attained Full Operational Capability (FOC)
Several years after they first entered service, and after flying over 1,200 hours on combat missions, Australia’s six Boeing E-7 Wedgetail airborne early warning and control aircraft have attained Full Operational Capability (FOC)

The Wedgetail has already proven to be highly reliable and effective on operations and this achievement will further Australia’s capabilities. The aircraft deployed on Operation Okra in the Middle East region, completing over 100 surveillance sorties with our coalition partners, flying more than 1,200 hours. The Wedgetail also provided coordination and flight safety capability for the air search for Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 in the Southern Indian Ocean.

The Wedgetail is tailored to meet the specific Air Force requirements, with six Boeing 737 aircraft modified to accommodate sophisticated mission systems and advanced multi-role radar. The aircraft significantly enhances the effectiveness of Australia’s existing Australian Defence Force and civil surveillance agencies and helps maintain an advanced technological capability.

Squadron Leader Andrew Boeree (foreground) shows the Minister for Defence, The Hon Kevin Andrews MP, and the Member for Solomon, Mrs Natasha Griggs MP, the onboard Mission System on the situational display in a No 2 Squadron E-7A Wedgetail aircraft
Squadron Leader Andrew Boeree (foreground) shows the Minister for Defence, The Hon Kevin Andrews MP, and the Member for Solomon, Mrs Natasha Griggs MP, the onboard Mission System on the situational display in a No 2 Squadron E-7A Wedgetail aircraft

Deputy Chief of Air Force, Air Vice-Marshal Gavin Davies, AO, CSC said the E-7A Wedgetail provides Australia with the ability to control and survey vast areas of operation, and contribute to Australia’s modern and fully integrated combat force under Plan Jericho.

«The aircraft’s advanced multi-role radar gives the Air Force the ability to survey, command, control and coordinate joint air, sea and land operations in real time», Air Vice-Marshal Davies said. «As we transition into a more technologically advanced force as part of Plan Jericho, the Wedgetail will be able to support future aircraft and surveillance systems».

The home operating base for the E-7A Wedgetail aircraft is Royal Australian Air Force Base Williamtown in New South Wales.

The Minister for Defence, The Hon Kevin Andrews MP (bottom of the stairs), and the Deputy Chief of Air Force, Air Vice-Marshal Gavin 'Leo' Davies, AO, CSC exit a No 2 Squadron E-7A Wedgetail aircraft after being shown the onboard Mission System
The Minister for Defence, The Hon Kevin Andrews MP (bottom of the stairs), and the Deputy Chief of Air Force, Air Vice-Marshal Gavin ‘Leo’ Davies, AO, CSC exit a No 2 Squadron E-7A Wedgetail aircraft after being shown the onboard Mission System

 

Technical Specifications

Contractor Boeing, Northrop Grumman
Airframe Boeing 737-700 Increased Gross Weight (IGW) airframe
Radar Northrop Grumman «MESA» electronically scanned array radar system with 360 degrees/Air and Maritime modes/200+ NM range (230 miles/370 km)/All Weather
Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) 300 NM/345 miles/555 km
System Architecture Open
Consoles Open
Operational ceiling 41,000 feet/12,496.8 m
Range 3,500 NM/4,028 miles/6,482 km
Flight Crew 2
Mission Crew 6 to 10
Inventory Total force, 6
Australian Aviation Journalist, Anthony Moclair is the first journalist to go flying on the A30 E-7A Wedgetail
Australian Aviation Journalist, Anthony Moclair is the first journalist to go flying on the A30 E-7A Wedgetail

First Refueling

Northrop Grumman Corporation (NOC) and the U.S. Navy successfully demonstrated fully Autonomous Aerial Refueling (AAR) with the X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System Demonstration (UCAS-D) aircraft on April 22, 2015, marking the first time in history that an unmanned aircraft has refueled in-flight.

X-47B successfully completes the first autonomous aerial refueling demonstration over the Chesapeake bay on April 22 (Photo courtesy of U.S. Navy)
X-47B successfully completes the first autonomous aerial refueling demonstration over the Chesapeake bay on April 22 (Photo courtesy of U.S. Navy)

This is another historic aviation milestone for the X-47B, which in 2013 became the first unmanned aircraft to autonomously launch from and recover aboard an aircraft carrier. In combination, these landmark demonstrations constitute a major step forward in autonomy that has application in both manned and unmanned aircraft. Autonomous launch, recovery and refueling have the potential for reducing operational costs in the future.

«AAR testing with the X-47B helps solidify the concept that future unmanned aircraft can perform standard missions like aerial refueling and operate seamlessly with manned aircraft as part of the Carrier Air Wing», said Captain Beau Duarte, the Navy’s Unmanned Carrier Aviation program manager.

During the probe and drogue (or «Navy-style») AAR demonstration, the X-47B performed a close formation flight rendezvous with an Omega K-707 tanker. Upon clearance from the tanker crew, the X-47B maneuvered into position behind the K-707 and successfully engaged the drogue. On completion of the refueling, the X-47B autonomously disengaged the drogue and maneuvered away from the tanker before returning to base.

The X-47B successfully conducted the first ever Autonomous Aerial Refueling of an unmanned aircraft
The X-47B successfully conducted the first ever Autonomous Aerial Refueling of an unmanned aircraft

«We are very pleased with the outcome of this first round of probe and drogue flights with the X-47B», said Pablo Gonzalez, UCAS-D program manager, Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems. «The AAR system and X-47B both performed as expected. While we would certainly benefit from additional probe and drogue flight testing, we have reached a tipping point at which AAR is now feasible».

Northrop Grumman began developing AAR technology for both Navy and Air Force application nearly a decade ago, pioneering a «hybrid» approach that integrates both GPS and infrared imaging to enhance navigational precision and hedge against GPS disruption. Initial UCAS-D flight-testing began in 2012 using a manned Learjet as a surrogate for the X-47B. These successful proof-of-concept flights demonstrated the overall feasibility of the X-47B AAR system and helped refine its navigation, command and control, and infrared sensor processing components.

Northrop Grumman is the Navy’s UCAS-D prime contractor. The UCAS-D industry team includes Lockheed Martin, Pratt & Whitney, GKN Aerospace, Eaton, General Electric, UTC Aerospace Systems, Dell, Honeywell, Moog, Wind River, Parker Aerospace, Sargent Aerospace & Defense, and Rockwell Collins.

X-47B prepares to engage with an Omega K-707 tanker drogue and complete the first autonomous aerial refueling demonstration over the Chesapeake bay on April 22 (Photo courtesy of U.S. Navy)
X-47B prepares to engage with an Omega K-707 tanker drogue and complete the first autonomous aerial refueling demonstration over the Chesapeake bay on April 22 (Photo courtesy of U.S. Navy)

 

X-47B Specifications

Length 38.2 feet/11.6 m
Wingspan 62.1 feet/18.9 m
Folded Wingspan 30.9 feet/9.4 m
Height 10.4 feet/3.2 m
Wheelbase 13.9 feet/4.2 m
Powerplant Pratt & Whitney F100-PW-220U
Max Gross Take-Off Weight (MGTOW) 44,000 lbs/19,958 kg
Twin Internal Weapons Bay 4,500 lbs/2,041 kg
Top Speed High Subsonic
Altitude >40,000 feet/12,192 m
Range >2,100 NM/3,889 km

 

X-47B First to Complete Autonomous Aerial Refueling

 

TERN – Phase 2

DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) has awarded prime contracts for Phase 2 of TERN (Tactically Exploited Reconnaissance Node), a joint program between DARPA and the U.S. Navy’s Office of Naval Research (ONR). The goal of TERN is to give forward-deployed small ships the ability to serve as mobile launch and recovery sites for medium-altitude, long-endurance Unmanned Aerial Systems (UASs).

Tactically Exploited Reconnaissance Node: Artist's Concept
Tactically Exploited Reconnaissance Node: Artist’s Concept

These systems could provide long-range Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) and other capabilities over greater distances and time periods than is possible with current assets, including manned and unmanned helicopters. Further, a capacity to launch and retrieve aircraft on small ships would reduce the need for ground-based airstrips, which require significant dedicated infrastructure and resources. The two prime contractors selected by DARPA to work on new systems are AeroVironment, Inc., and Northrop Grumman Corp.

«To offer the equivalent of land-based UAS capabilities from small-deck ships, our Phase 2 performers are each designing a new Unmanned Air System intended to enable two previously unavailable capabilities:

  • the ability for a UAS to take off and land from very confined spaces in elevated sea states;
  • the ability for such a UAS to transition to efficient long-duration cruise missions», said Dan Patt, DARPA program manager.

«Tern’s goal is to develop breakthrough technologies that the U.S. Navy could realistically integrate into the future fleet and make it much easier, quicker and less expensive for the Defense Department to deploy persistent ISR and strike capabilities almost anywhere in the world», added Dan Patt.

The first two phases of the TERN program focus on preliminary design and risk reduction. In Phase 3, one performer will be selected to build a full-scale demonstrator TERN system for initial ground-based testing. That testing would lead to a full-scale, at-sea demonstration of a prototype UAS on an at-sea platform with deck size similar to that of a destroyer or other surface combat vessel.

Unfortunately, DARPA has restricted the bidding teams from revealing most details about their aircraft proposals, said Stephen Trimble, Flightglobal.com reporter.

The agency has released an image of an artist’s concept for a notional TERN vehicle. It reveals a tail-sitter, twin-engined design resembling the General Atomics MQ-1 Predator, Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) built by General Atomics and used primarily by the United States Air Force (USAF) and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

The artist’s concept demonstrates a sharply dihedral mid-wing and the Predator’s familiar anhedral stabilisers. The new vehicle is shown equipped with a visual sensor.

A dedicated launch and recovery system for the TERN UAS is not visible on either vessel shown in the image. A tail-sitter TERN is shown perched however on the aft helicopter deck of the destroyer, suggesting no catapults or nets are required to launch and retrieve the aircraft.

Maiden deployment

Five E-2D Advanced Hawkeyes assigned to Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 125 will make their maiden deployment as part of Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 1 aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71).

True 360-degree radar coverage provides uncompromised all-weather tracking and situational awareness
True 360-degree radar coverage provides uncompromised all-weather tracking and situational awareness

The E-2D Advanced Hawkeye is set to replace the E-2C Hawkeye in its primary mission to provide airborne early warning and command and control capabilities for all aircraft-carrier battle groups. While the primary mission for the E-2 has not changed, the Advanced Hawkeye is able to gather and process data more precisely and efficiently thanks to state-of-the-art radar and communication equipment.

«Suppose you’re looking through a pair of goggles, with the E-2C you have 20/20 vision, and with the E-2D you have 20/10», said Cmdr. Daryl Trent, commanding officer of VAW-125. «It has significantly advanced radar, its computer processing capabilities have been increased and the communication suites have been enhanced. This plane is a real game-changer».

The Advanced Hawkeye’s technology makes it a multi-mission platform through its ability to coordinate concurrent missions, which may arise during a single flight. These missions can include airborne strike, ground force support, rescue operations and managing a reliable communications network capable of supporting drug interdiction operations.

Along with advances in equipment, the Advanced Hawkeye’s all-glass cockpit boasts an entirely digital display, an upgrade that allows the co-pilot to act as the Tactical 4th Operator (T4O).

A completely new radar featuring both mechanical and electronic scanning capabilities
A completely new radar featuring both mechanical and electronic scanning capabilities

«It’s not like before when everything was pressure gauges», said Trent. «Now everything is digital. This makes for a stronger ability to process information, and allows the co-pilot to change his display and access acquired data».

With the first five going out to sea, the Navy plans to continue procuring the Advanced Hawkeye to replace the Hawkeye through 2023.

«This aircraft has been in development for almost 20 years», said Trent. «Now that we’re set for our maiden deployment, and we get set to integrate with craft like the growler and the hornet, we’re going to become the most efficient carrier strike group in the fleet».

VAW-125 deploys as part of CVW-1 on a regularly scheduled deployment to the U.S. 5th and 6th Fleet areas of responsibility to conduct maritime security operations, theater security cooperation efforts and missions in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

Open architecture compliant, commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS)-based hardware and software enables rapid, cost-wise technology refresh for consistent leading-edge mission tools
Open architecture compliant, commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS)-based hardware and software enables rapid, cost-wise technology refresh for consistent leading-edge mission tools

 

E-2D Advanced Hawkeye

The E-2D Advanced Hawkeye is a game changer in how the Navy will conduct battle management command and control. By serving as the «digital quarterback» to sweep ahead of strike, manage the mission, and keep our net-centric carrier battle groups out of harms way, the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye is the key to advancing the mission, no matter what it may be. The E-2D gives the warfighter expanded battlespace awareness, especially in the area of information operations delivering battle management, theater air and missile defense, and multiple sensor fusion capabilities in an airborne system.

The Hawkeye provides all-weather airborne early warning, airborne battle management and command and control functions for the Carrier Strike Group and Joint Force Commander
The Hawkeye provides all-weather airborne early warning, airborne battle management and command and control functions for the Carrier Strike Group and Joint Force Commander

Hardware with system characteristics that provides:

  • Substantial target processing capacity (>3,000 reports per second)
  • Three highly automated and common operator stations
  • High-capacity, flat-panel color high-resolution displays
  • Extensive video type selection (radar and identification friend/foe)
  • HF/VHF/UHF and satellite communications systems
  • Extensive data link capabilities
  • Inertial navigational system and global positioning system navigation and in-flight alignment
  • Integrated and centralized diagnostic system
  • Glass Cockpit allows software reconfigurable flight/mission displays
  • Cockpit – 4th tactical operator
  • Open architecture ensures rapid technology upgrades and customized configuration options
Fully Integrated «All Glass» Tactical Cockpit
Fully Integrated «All Glass» Tactical Cockpit

 

General Characteristics

Wingspan:                                           24.56 m/80 feet 7 in

Width, wings folded:                     8.94 m/29 feet 4 in

Length overall:                                  17.60 m/57 feet 8.75 in

Height overall:                                   5.58 m/18 feet 3.75 in

Diameter of rotodome:                7.32 m/24 feet

Weight empty:                                   19,536 kg/43,068 lbs

Internal fuel:                                       5,624 kg/12,400 lbs

Takeoff gross weight:                    26,083 kg/57,500 lbs

Maximum level speed:                  648 km/h/350 knots/403 mph

Maximum cruise speed:               602 km/h/325 knots/374 mph

Cruise speed:                                     474 km/h/256 knots/295 mph

Approach speed:                              200 km/h/108 knots/124 mph

Service ceiling:                                  10,576 m/34,700 feet

Minimum takeoff distance:       410 m/1,346 feet ground roll

Minimum landing distance:       537 m/1,764 feet ground roll

Ferry range:                                        2,708 km/1,462 NM

Crew Members:                               5

Power Plant:  2 × Rolls-Royce T56-A-427A, rated at 5,100 eshp each

Unrefueled:                                        >6 hours

In-flight refueling:                           12 hours

The E-2D is a twin engine, five crewmember, high-wing turboprop aircraft with a 24-foot diameter radar rotodome attached to the upper fuselage
The E-2D is a twin engine, five crewmember, high-wing turboprop aircraft with a 24-foot diameter radar rotodome attached to the upper fuselage

The first in the world

Finmeccanica – AgustaWestland and Kawasaki Heavy Industries (KHI) are pleased to announce the delivery of the first Airborne Mine Counter Measures (AMCM) equipped KHI MCH-101 helicopter to the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force. The KHI MCH-101, a licence built version of the AgustaWestland AW101 helicopter, is equipped with the Northrop Grumman AN/AQS-24A airborne mine hunting system and the Northrop Grumman AN/AES-1 Airborne Laser Mine Detection System (ALMDS).

The MCH-101 which has just been delivered to the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force is a variant of the AgustaWestland AW101, and the only modern helicopter capable of carrying Northrop’s airborne minehunting suite, visible here in place of its rear ramp (AW photo)
The MCH-101 which has just been delivered to the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force is a variant of the AgustaWestland AW101, and the only modern helicopter capable of carrying Northrop’s airborne minehunting suite, visible here in place of its rear ramp (AW photo)

Together these systems provide a complete surface-to-bottom mine detection capability. The AW101/MCH-101 is one of only two helicopter types capable of towing the AN/AQS-24A and the only modern helicopter type.

The development of the AMCM variant of the AW101/MCH-101 has been led by Kawasaki Heavy Industries, as prime contractor, with AgustaWestland providing technical support. KHI has responsibility for system integration and design of the AN/AQS-24A carriage, deploy, tow and recovery system that is installed in the cabin.

AgustaWestland in addition to providing technical support also modified the aircraft’s Automatic Flight Control System (AFCS) to be able to perform coupled towing patterns with the Northrop Grumman AN/AQS-24A.

Following the handover ceremony at Kawasaki’s Gifu factory on 27th February, the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force aircraft was delivered to Iwakuni where it will perform evaluation trials with the 51st Experimental Squadron before entering operational service in 2016.

With a typical range of 735 NM (over 1,360 km) in standard configuration the MCH-101 is the most capable Maritime helicopter in the world today
With a typical range of 735 NM (over 1,360 km) in standard configuration the MCH-101 is the most capable Maritime helicopter in the world today

The AN/AQS-24A is the only operationally proven, high speed airborne mine hunting system in the world. It features a high-resolution, side scan sonar for real time, detection, localization and classification of bottom and moored mines at high area coverage rates and a laser line scanner to provide precision optical identification of underwater mines and other objects of interest.

 

KHI MCH-101

KHI developed the MCH-101, a successor of the current MH-53E minesweeping/transport helicopter, by modifying the EH-101, a utility helicopter developed and manufactured by AgustaWestland based in Italy and the United Kingdom, in order to meet needs specific to Japan. The MCH-101 will be used in the Maritime Self-Defense Force’s minesweeping/transport activities as well as transport support for Antarctic exploration.

The MCH-101 is the only modern helicopter capable of towing the AN/AQS-24A
The MCH-101 is the only modern helicopter capable of towing the AN/AQS-24A

The AN/AES-1 Airborne Laser Mine Detection System uses pulsed laser light and streak tube receivers housed in an external equipment pod to image the entire near-surface volume potentially containing mines. The ALMDS pod is mounted on the port weapon carrier and data is displayed on the cabin mission console.

The first AMCM configured is the eighth of 13 AW101s that Kawasaki Heavy Industries is building under licence from AgustaWestland for the Japan Maritime Defense Force.

The eight aircraft delivered to date comprise six MCH-101s and two CH-101s. The CH-101s are used to support Japan’s Antarctic research activities.

 

AgustaWestland AW101

The AW101 combines the most advanced technologies, safety by design, mission systems and leading-edge manufacturing to provide a proven platform for Heads of State and Very Very Important Person (VVIP) operators.

The MCH-101 is equipped with three civil certified (FAA Type Certificate E8NE) General Electric CT7-8E engines
The MCH-101 is equipped with three civil certified (FAA Type Certificate E8NE) General Electric CT7-8E engines

Featuring the largest cabin in its class, 2.49 m/8.17 feet wide and 1.83 m/6 feet high, passengers are able to walk in the spacious environment, which can be fitted with a range of fixtures and equipment, finished in highest quality materials to customers exacting standards. The aircraft has been proven in the world’s most extreme environments, from the Arctic to the Antarctic.

 

Weights

Maximum Take-Off (int./ext. loads):  15,600 kg/34,392 lbs

Engine Rating (3 x GE CT7-8E)

Take-Off power (5 min):                          3 x 1,884 kW/3 x 2,527 shp

Intermediate (30 min):                             3 x 1,855 kW/3 x 2,488 shp

Maximum Continuous Power:            3 x 1,522 kW/3 x 2,041 shp

OEI* Max Contingency (2 min):          2 x 1,880 kW/2 x 2,522 shp

* One Engine Inoperative

With the largest cabin in its class, the MCH-101 provides customers with greater operational flexibility
With the largest cabin in its class, the MCH-101 provides customers with greater operational flexibility

Fuel Capacity (VVIP version)

4 cell tanks (self-sealing):                       4,094 L/1,081 USgal

Fuel Capacity (Utility version)

5 cell tanks (self-sealing):                       5,135 L/1,357 USgal

Crew

Pilot:                                                                   2

Passengers:                                                    38

External Dimensions

Overall length:                                               22.83 m/74.92 feet

Overall height:                                               6.66 m/21.83 feet

Main rotor diameter:                                 18.60 m/61.00 feet

Performance

Cruise speed:                                                 278 km/h/150 knots

Hovering In Ground Effect (IGE):      3,307 m/10,850 feet

Max Range (Utility version):                 1,360 km/735 NM

Max Endurance (Utility version):       6 h 30 min

Whether equipped for autonomous ASW/ASuW or amphibious assault with 38 troops, the MCH-101 offers total flexibility to fleet commanders
Whether equipped for autonomous ASW/ASuW or amphibious assault with 38 troops, the MCH-101 offers total flexibility to fleet commanders