NORTHROP GRUMMAN DEMONSTRATES CAPABILITY IN UNMANNED GROUND SENSORS
By Julian Nettlefold
12 Apr 12. BATTLESPACE discussed the recent Scorpion Unmanned Ground System (UGS) contract award with Jack Wolford, Business development Manager Northrop Grumman ES-GES based in Cincinnati, Ohio.
The U.S. Army has awarded Northrop Grumman Corporation a contract to provide SCORPION and SCORPION II Unattended Ground Sensor (UGS) systems to protect soldiers with a remote persistent unattended surveillance capability for improved situational awareness and actionable intelligence.
Northrop Grumman’s SCORPION UGS systems have been deployed worldwide. The primary function of SCORPION is to provide persistent surveillance for situational awareness, remote area monitoring and perimeter security.
“How did Northrop Grumman get into the Unmanned Ground System business?”
“Northrop Grumman purchased Xetron an RF radio specialist in 1972. Xetron is now a key part of the Land and Self Protection Systems Division of Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems.”
“How many employees do you have and what is your particular area of expertise?”
“We have 300 employees with a long history of RF technology going back to our Westinghouse heritage in 1986. Xetron specializes in providing solutions that meet operational needs or fill technology gaps. These solutions range from a Quick React Capability (QRC) to full MIL Spec programs. Our proven solutions, which include both COTS and custom “components,” cover Radio Frequency (RF) Systems as well as Information Operations (IO) to include Computer Network Operations (CNO) for cyber applications. Xetron is a world leader in specialized RF Applications and Information Operations.”
“Solving RF interference is one of the black arts of the defense electronics industry and not well reported, at BATTLESPACE we have written about it for many years, particularly with regard to large communications programmes such as BOWMAN in the U.K.”
“You are right, there are a few Companies with our abilities and we regard ourselves as an industry leader in radio communications interference mitigation, we not only solve your cosite interference issues using sophisticated modeling tools, we also design, develop, and build the hardware solution you need. Whether it’s cancellers, multicouplers, power amps, filters, or some combination of these, we’ve done it (VHF/UHF/L-band/Multi-band).”
“How did this translate into an expertise to build and develop UGS?”
“Our RF expertise was recognised as the core to allow connectivity between the UGS and the operator be he on the ground or across the world. We won our first contract in 1998 and were contracted to ‘problem solve’ a contract in 1999. Early UGS systems were stovepiped and limited by line-of-sight; our job was to globalise this connectivity seamlessly across the globe.”
“What other capabilities do you have to develop this technology?”
“We also specialize in small size, low power consumption, battery operated solutions for collection systems, receivers/transmitters, communications systems, unattended ground sensor systems, and tagging, tracking and locating systems. Some of our very small products incorporate custom RF integrated circuits, designed here at Xetron and developed at our Advanced Technology Center. In the information operations/cyber market, our extensive experience with operating systems enables us to specialize in information assurance (encryption, tamper protection, intrusion detection, and recovery after compromise) in addition to reverse engineering and computer assault. We also provide secure methods of communicating within a system. Some UGS systems can have as many as 50 different products from different manufacturers thus we have to develop the network which allows all of these to connect seamlessly without any interference with common open source software. After the collapse of FCS where Overwatch Inc. was the UGS lead, the U.S. Army came t