Northrop Grumman Corporation has successfully demonstrated a data link for connecting aircraft in highly contested airspace for long-range command and control through an open architecture network. The experiment, which linked a Firebird UAS (unmanned aerial system) with a Scaled Composites Proteus HALE (High-Altitude, Long-Endurance) research aircraft, is a critical milestone in the evolution of a distributed multi-domain battle management command and control architecture that will provide decision superiority for the U.S. military and allies.
The flight demonstration is the first integration of a new mission-specific military transceiver, multi-level security data switches, and open architecture wide-area networking, utilizing commercial technology in the observe, orient, decide and act (OODA) loop – the decision-making chain for threat engagements.
This demonstration is a key step toward harnessing the power of a network into critical domains for national security missions. The two aircraft were linked through an advanced line-of-sight data link with low probability of intercept/low probability of detection characteristics that includes anti-jam properties. The aircraft established a link, performed a simulated ISR mission, and connected back to a cloud-based 5G network testbed through a novel prototype multi-level security switch.
Tom Pieronek, chief technology officer and vice president of research & technology at Northrop Grumman, commented: “Northrop Grumman technologies, built on advanced low size, weight and power electronics, enable integrated and secure communications across domains supporting the Department of Defense’s JADC2 strategy. Northrop Grumman remains committed to delivering capabilities that maintain strategic advantage for the U.S. and its allies across all domains and against all adversaries.”