30 Jun 10. Northrop Grumman Corporation and the U.S. Navy have begun the next phase of the flight test program leading to the “final exam” Operational Evaluation and potential approval next year for full-rate production of the Airborne Laser Mine Detection System (ALMDS). The Navy is conducting the Developmental Flight Test-IIE (DT-IIE) program from its Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division site in Florida. The first flight occurred on June 8. ALMDS is an airborne mine countermeasures system, one of several systems in development by Northrop Grumman to address the threat posed by mines to U.S. and allied ships. ALMDS uses its pulsed laser light and streak tube receivers to image in 3-D, day or night, the near-surface of the ocean. The system is housed in a pod that is mounted on the port side of an MH-60S helicopter and measures just under nine feet long with a 21-inch diameter. ALMDS will be a key component of the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) Mine Countermeasures Mission Package. Northrop Grumman also is the LCS Mission Package Integrator for the Navy.
“Mines are worldwide, inexpensive, and readily available to terrorists and rogue nations for use against military and commercial ships,” said Dan Chang, vice president of Northrop Grumman Maritime and Tactical Systems. “Being able to find them rapidly, without slowing the pace of our fleet, is the purpose of ALMDS. It’s about getting the sailor out of the minefield wherever possible.”
The Navy will fly ALMDS approximately 40 times during the DT-IIE evaluation. A technical evaluation will follow and will lead to the full-scale Operational Evaluation late next year.
“We’ve had four flights to date and, though I can’t go into details, the feedback we’ve gotten is that the system is performing well and reliably,” said Chang. “The flight test data have allowed us to make a few minor software adjustments that have sharpened the capabilities of the system.”
Northrop Grumman has delivered five ALMDS pods to the Navy, all on or ahead of schedule, under LRIP phase-1 and -2 contracts. An LRIP phase-3 contract is expected later this year.
07 Jul 10. A BAE Systems seeker detected and destroyed a unitary target performing the lowest endo-atmospheric intercept to date for the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense weapon system flight test program on June 28 at the Pacific Missile Range Facility in Kauai, Hawaii. The test, conducted by the U.S. Missile Defense Agency and Lockheed Martin, the THAAD prime contractor and systems integrator verified the interceptor and other system components capability to detect and to intercept a unitary Short Range Ballistic Missile. The test also demonstrated the seeker’s ability to perform target acquisition and track-and-aim point selection by the interceptor’s seeker and its avionics flight software.
“This was the THAAD interceptor’s lowest endo intercept to date,” said Joe Colosimo, chief engineer for BAE Systems in Nashua, New Hampshire, where the THAAD seeker is built. “As the flight test program continues, the scenarios become more complex requiring our technology to perform on targets that will become more challenging to detect and hit.”
THAAD is designed to defend U.S. troops, allied forces, population centers and critical infrastructure against short to possibly intermediate-range ballistic missiles. BAE Systems worked on missile defense seekers since the late 1970s and achieved the first hit-to-kill intercept of a ballistic-missile target in 1984.
08 Jul 10. The Space Tracking and Surveillance System (STSS) Demonstration satellites, built by Northrop Grumman Corporation and Raytheon Company, successfully detected and tracked a two-stage Ground-Based Interceptor (GBI) during a U.S. Missile Defense Agency flight test on June 6, 2010. Tracking data generated by the satellite sensors were transmitted to the Missile Defense Integration and Operation Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., which serves as the ground station for the two demonstra