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By Julian Nettlefold

BATTLESPACE editor Julian Nettlefold was given a number of briefings at the Paris Air Show about Northrop Grumman’s new product development in the self-protection, tactical internet and information arenas, CIRCM, HART and eCORE.


In early June Northrop Grumman Corporation announced the development and demonstration of a new aircraft self-protection system processor that is specifically designed to meet the rigors of the military rotary-wing environment. This miniaturized processor identifies, tracks and defeats the threat of infrared missiles launched against rotary- and fixed-wing aircraft. Part of the company's U.S. Army Common Infrared Countermeasures (CIRCM) self-protection system offering, this modular processor uses a commercially available operating system, is one-third lighter in weight, requires one-fourth the electrical input power, and is both more reliable and less costly to manufacture than the currently produced directional infrared countermeasures (DIRCM) processors. The successful demonstration, where identification, tracking and acquisition of multiple missiles were verified, took place at Northrop Grumman's Rolling Meadows facility and was witnessed by Naval Surface Warfare Center Crane, a division of the U.S. Navy.

“This small processor has demonstrated the ability to perform complex tracking functions while hosted on a commercially off-the-shelf [COTS] processor," said Carl Smith, vice president of infrared countermeasures for Northrop Grumman's Land and Self Protection Systems Division. "The processor has demonstrated that it can track missiles in stressing environments including clutter by maintaining tracking through obscuring helicopter blades and rejecting flares.”

Heterogeneous Airborne Reconnaissance Team (HART)

The requirement for real-time access to ISR platforms, sensors and sensor products in complex environments, is key to the ability of the soldier to analyse and deliver accurate real time information. The Heterogeneous Airborne Reconnaissance Team (HART) system autonomously manages a large mix of manned and unmanned aircraft and sensors and distributes streaming video, surveillance and reconnaissance information to warfighters in the field. HART significantly assists in planning and conducting ISR operations, providing all the necessary tools to quickly submit ISR tasking or retasking requests based on the warfighter’s mission and changing tactical priorities.

HART can automatically and simultaneously track, interface and bi-directionally integrate up to 50 different manned/unmanned systems, simultaneously providing critical imagery to up to 50 user interfaces. The system can either dynamically retrieve, in near real time, the required information from a catalogue of geo-registered images or direct manned/unmanned aircraft systems and/or sensors to collect updated intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance information.

Since initial demonstration in 2005, HART has successfully demonstrated integration with Raven, Wasp, Pointer, ScanEagle, Shadow, Bat and Hunter, all without requiring modification to either UAS platform or ground stations. It is also capable of interacting and integrating with current and future US Department of Defense UAS, including Global Hawk, BAMS, Predator, Fire Scout, UCLASS and others. The HART system has recently completed testing and is in the final stages of preparation for fielding. Adoption of HART is under active consideration by all military services.

HART is another example of Northrop Grumman's world-class systems integration capabilities that enable a variety of military users to exchange real-time information on tactical, ad-hoc networks.

eCORE – (enhanced) C4ISR Operationally Responsive Enterprise

John C. Johnson, Vice President and General Manager, ISR Systems Division of Northrop’s Electronic Systems gave the Editor a fascinating insight into eCORE.

“eCORE was funded by the U.S. Government and Northrop Grumman to provide an affordable Open Architecture enterprise integration framework that can adapt to multiple customer needs by allowing for the agile integration of services, access to real-time data, messaging and alerting. A simple example is a Tactical Search Engine.” John Johnson said. “Using eCORE, customers can rapidly configure their system to find data, process the information and expose this to others in a collaborative environment. eCORE’s capabilities are based on leveraging a COTS Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) and cloud computing. The end-users have the flexibility to configure the system to their needs, as they respond to operational threats. eCORE’s greatest value is that it works with existing legacy systems, improving affordability.”

“Can you give us a history of the eCORE development?”

“eCORE, launched in 2010, was developed following experience gained in the First Gulf War in the early 1990’s. We have delivered more than 100 systems across the U.S. DoD with integrated ISR services to pull tactical details back to analysts. Essentially, the Northrop Grumman DCGS family of systems all have a common set of foundational COTS software components. That’s eCORE.”

“How does it improve the data delivery capability?”

“The growth of data on the battlefield has meant that existing stove-piped systems cannot cope, they are drowning in data. It is difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff and some systems grind to a halt. eCORE simplifies and accesses information across multiple complex systems anytime anywhere.”

BATTLESPACE has covered features over the years on the problems encountered on the battlefield with new digital systems and their abilities to deliver large chunks of data across the battlefield without clogging up the system. The early BOWMAN system suffered from this problem where every soldier received the data. When large ISTAR images were distributed, the lack of gateways caused the system to grind to a halt.

“Does eCORE have limitations on who sees the data?”

“eCORE doesn’t limit interoperability as a technology. However, the flexibility of eCORE allows customers, based on their policies and operational needs, to determine how and where they data is shared or discovered.”

“Is eCORE scaleable?”

“Yes, it is very like your mobile phone, we are developing and integrating Open Architecture Apps including weather forecasting and reporting and other advanced ISTAR applications, both from within Northrop Grumman as well as across the industry.”

Source : Northrop Grumman
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