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07 Oct 03. Both Aerial Common Sensor (ACS) teams from Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin gave presentations at AUSA. The U.S. Navy has now a requirement under this Army-led requirement which provides a common replacement for the current Guardrail and Airborne Reconnaissance Low systems, both built by Northrop Grumman companies. A contract award is expected on the 1st of March, 5-7 systems for the Army and the Navy worth $600m. The total requirement is expected to be for 38 for the Army and 14-19 for the Navy. All systems are required to have ELINT, SARGMTI radars, Satcom, EO/IR and hyperspectrum systems. Northrop is providing a variant of the APY-6 radar, whilst Lockheed would only comment that theirs was a pod-based system from Phoenix. The operating height requirement is 47000 feet. The system will use the Common Ground Station.

Northrop Grumman Corporation announced that Gulfstream Aerospace has joined its team as airframe provider in the competition to develop the Aerial Common Sensor (ACS). Gulfstream will provide its newest aircraft, the G450, as the ACS RC-20 platform.

“The addition of Gulfstream further augments our team’s already formidable domain expertise in airborne tactical ISR systems,” said William R. Adams, vice president of Airborne Surveillance Systems at the Electronic Systems sector and corporate lead on the company’s ACS program team. “Gulfstream’s U.S.-manufactured jets have proven themselves repeatedly in meeting the demanding requirements of special electronic mission aircraft, cruising at higher altitudes and remaining on station longer than any comparable aircraft.”

Buddy Sams, senior vice president for government programs at Gulfstream, added, “Gulfstream aircraft have plenty of performance margin to ensure the operational flexibility of our nation’s most sophisticated electronic sensor. In addition, the logistics infrastructure for Gulfstream jets is already in place throughout the U.S. Defense Department and at commercial airports around the world. Pilots know how to train with and fly them, mechanics can service them, and spare parts are available on nearly every continent. These planes would integrate seamlessly into the existing Department of Defense business jet fleet, saving money over their entire service lifetime.”

Gulfstream jets currently serve all four branches of the U.S. military as well as the U.S. Coast Guard, and the company has delivered aircraft to the Army and other services for 26 years. More Gulfstreams are performing military missions today worldwide than any other large-cabin business jet.

Lockheed Martin announced that Embraer, Harris and L-3 had been added to their ACS team. Embraer will provide an airframe based on the ERJ/145/EMB145 already in service with the Brazilian Armed forces. There are 600 145 aircraft flying and an 800 order backlog. The company will produce the aircraft at its new Jacksonville, Florida plant. L-3 has been brought on to the team to manage aircraft systems integration and support, integration and testing, communications and interoperability at its Greenville plant which it purchased from Raytheon last year. Harris will lead the development of the communications portion of the Core information System and also play a key leadership role in the development of the Intelligence Processing System. Harris will assist Lockheed Martin in maturing the current communications architecture for ACS including various VHF and UHF radios, airborne sitcom and common data link. The company will provide key SIGINT/IMINT Exploitation technologies providing near real-time actionable intelligence.

Both teams recently completed work on a $35m, 15-month Component Advanced Development contract for the U.S. Army’s Program Executive Office for Intelligence, Electronic Warfare and Sensors, Ft. Monmouth, N.J., for technology demonstration and risk reduction efforts.

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