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Northrop demonstrates new in-flight connectivity for Pentagon’s JADC2 strategy

Proteus research aircraft
Photo: Northrop Grumman

Northrop Grumman says it has demonstrated a data link for connecting aircraft in highly contested airspace for long-range command and control through an open architecture network.

The company said the experiment represented a milestone in the evolution of a distributed multi-domain battle management command and control architecture that maintains decision superiority for the US military and allies.

“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,” said Tom Pieronek, chief technology officer and vice president, research & technology, Northrop Grumman.

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 into the observe, orient, decide and act loop – the decision-making chain for threat engagements.

The flight demonstration linked the Scaled Composites Proteus, a high-altitude, long-endurance research aircraft, with a Firebird, an unmanned air vehicle with the capability to be flown manned, 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.