22 Mar 04. Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC – News) has selected key team members and assigned roles to four of its sectors to create a best-of-industry team in the competition for the Aerial Common Sensor (ACS), the U.S. Army’s and Navy’s next-generation airborne multi-intelligence collection system.
BAE SYSTEMS North America (London:BA.L – News) will collaborate with Northrop Grumman to form a signals intelligence (SIGINT) team of national scale. BAE will bring its proven Diamond(tm) open-system architecture to the effort, and Northrop Grumman will contribute its expertise in multi-aircraft geolocation. Together they will provide a formidable SIGINT capability for both the Army and Navy.
“We’re confident that our teaming of BAE SYSTEMS with Northrop Grumman, the two most experienced SIGINT system providers in the industry, will significantly reduce risk to the ACS program and will produce a flexible system that can grow with the changing nature of battlespace threats,” said William R. Adams, vice president of Airborne Surveillance Systems at Northrop Grumman and corporate lead for the ACS program.
Gulfstream, a unit of General Dynamics (NYSE:GD – News), will provide its G450 business jet as the ACS platform and will make all special-mission modifications to the aircraft. Gulfstream is currently completing airworthiness flight testing and expects to achieve full Federal Aviation Administration certification by April. The G450 will operate at 45,000 feet, enabling the ACS mission-sensor suite to scan a 20 percent wider area than a platform operating at the threshold requirement of 37,000 feet. This will also provide a steeper lookdown over mountainous terrain and urban areas, reducing the effects of terrain masking on sensor performance.
In addition, Army pilots already train on Gulfstream’s Planeview(tm) flight system and currently operate a fleet of the company’s G-IV aircraft, with more than 45 pilots trained. This will increase operational flexibility and reduce program training costs. The suppliers that will provide the communication subsystem for the mission suite include a number of incumbents on the Army/Navy inventory: L-3 Communications – West (NYSE:LLL – News), a recognized world leader in military communication systems, will provide the line-of-sight and satellite communication data links, which will ensure that critical information is rapidly disseminated to all levels of command. L-3 currently supplies data links for the Army’s RC-12 Guardrail and RC-7 Airborne Reconnaissance Low systems.
Adams added, “ACS is a top priority for Northrop Grumman and has the backing and involvement of our entire corporation. This ACS team has the necessary operational airborne ISR expertise, flexible architecture, air vehicle, proven sensors, and systems integration skills to ensure the Army and Navy the delivery of a transformational system that plays a central role in the three-dimensional joint battlespace.”
Northrop Grumman’s Electronic Systems sector will serve as prime contractor and will be supported by the company’s Mission Systems, Integrated Systems and Information Technology sectors. Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems will provide image intelligence and mission-computing expertise. Northrop Grumman Mission Systems will lead the electronic intelligence effort as well as teaming with BAE on the SIGINT. Northrop Grumman Integrated Systems will provide expertise in complex airborne systems and communications integration and operate the team’s systems integration laboratory. And Northrop Grumman Information Technology will provide SIGINT exploitation tools, modeling and simulation, training and mission planning.
Comment: At AUSA, BATTLESPACE was told by Lockheed Martin that it current advertising campaign was too aggressive, indicating that the decision on ACS was close to call. Northrop certainly seems to have the best team, with the advantage of the number of