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12 Aug 03. Northrop Grumman Corporation’s (NYSE: NOC) Integrated Systems sector demonstrated in a recent test a simpler, more cost-effective way to use the Affordable Moving Surface Target Engagement (AMSTE) system.

The company used a single Ground Moving Target Indicator (GMTI) radar source and Raindrop(tm), the U.S. Air Force’s Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) targeting system, to engage a moving target with a seeker-less weapon. The test proved that AMSTE, which normally requires information from two radar systems to determine a target’s location, could carry out a mission with a single GMTI radar if necessary.

Northrop Grumman conducted the exercise as a company-funded adjunct to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (DARPA/AFRL) AMSTE program. Previous AMSTE tests have used at least two radar systems to provide target location data.

“Our test provided an expanded look at the versatility of the AMSTE system,” said Bill McCall, Northrop Grumman’s AMSTE program manager. “AMSTE-equipped forces will be able to engage moving targets with a variety of sensor configurations and strike assets, giving commanders a maximum set of options.” The option to use AMSTE with only a single radar allows commanders to make more efficient use of radar assets while expanding the value of JDAM-equipped fighters as strike assets, he added.

In the July 24 test, an Air Force E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (Joint STARS) provided target data to an F-16 equipped with an inert, 2,000-pound, seeker-less, data link-equipped JDAM. The F-16, flying at 20,000 feet, released the weapon nearly six miles away from the target. Joint STARS directed the JDAM to a point where it engaged the truck, which was travelling at 23mph, shortly after the truck passed another vehicle at an intersection. The weapon struck within three meters of the target, well inside the lethal zone of a live JDAM.

“We saw discernable damage from flying shrapnel on the truck,” said McCall. “If a live warhead had been used, very little would remain of the target.”

A road-aided tracking system used in the AMSTE test exploited standard National Imagery and Mapping Agency products and the targeting capabilities of the Raindrop(tm) system, which was developed by Northrop Grumman Integrated Systems’ PRB Systems unit, Hollywood, Md. Raindrop(tm) was used successfully during Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom to guide JDAMs in precision strikes against fixed targets.

“Most companies in the defense industry are just talking about creating flexible, sensor-to-shooter, network-centric solutions, but Northrop Grumman is flying them today,” said Dr. Dale Burton, vice president of advanced architectures for Integrated Systems’ Advanced Capabilities Development organization. “This Joint STARS-derived AMSTE single-GMTI targeting capability is a good example of the evolutionary thinking and integration skills that we bring to Air Force’s new E-10A Battle Management Command & Control subsystem procurement.”

The Northrop Grumman team conducting the demonstration included The Boeing Company (JDAM prime contractor) and Raytheon Company (weapon data link supplier). The DARPA/AFRL AMSTE program provided the JDAM weapon, which was modified to accept the AMSTE weapon data link.

Northrop Grumman’s AMSTE technology uses machine-to-machine communications to engage moving surface targets precisely and accurately using seeker-less munitions from standoff distances in all weather conditions. This system-of-systems technology uses a data fusion subsystem to develop and maintain accurate, long-term target tracks. The tracks allow the AMSTE system to guide GPS munitions to direct hits on moving surface targets.

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