NORTHROP GRUMMAN FURTHER REFINES E-10A MISSION WITH CWIN
15 Dec 03. A Northrop Grumman (NYSE:NOC)-led team has reached a significant milestone in refining its concept for developing and deploying the battle management command and control (BMC2) subsystem for the U.S. Air Force’s E-10A multi-sensor command and control aircraft.
The team flew multiple mock E-10A missions last week in a virtual, high-intensity battlefield environment using a fully functional BMC2 subsystem mock up of its proposed BMC2 subsystem as the central “node” of a network of simulated battlefield sensors, command and control and precision strike elements.
The missions, conducted on Northrop Grumman’s nationwide Cyber Warfare Integration Network (CWIN), involved unscripted, high-fidelity, user-driven interactions between high-fidelity threats and joint and coalition forces.
The event showcased the BMC2 subsystem’s ability to operate effectively as an airborne, execution-based extension of an air operations center. In this role, it successfully orchestrated a defense against cruise-missile attacks and prosecuted time-sensitive targets, all while managing a dynamic, multi-sensor network.
“The realism provided by CWIN allowed us to produce solid evidence that our BMC2 concept’s real-time architecture can dramatically shorten the kill chain for the Air Force,” said Scott J. Seymour, Northrop Grumman corporate vice president and president of the company’s Integrated Systems sector. “We’ll use data collected during these highly realistic exercises to refine and validate our solution for conducting cruise-missile defense and time-sensitive targeting in an integrated battlespace.”
The E-10A missions included Blue Force tracking, command and control of a surrogate unmanned aerial vehicle, and interactions with bandwidth-disadvantaged tactical users via Northrop Grumman’s new Internet-like Advanced Information Architecture.
Northrop Grumman conducted the missions using its Crew Area Virtual Environment (CAVE) in Melbourne, a 40-foot mockup of a Boeing 767-400R fuselage equipped with a full suite of BMC2 operator consoles. The company’s CWIN facilities, first seen by BATTLESPACE Editor Julian Nettlefold in 2002, in Melbourne; Bethpage, N.Y.; El Segundo and Azusa, Calif.; and Washington D.C. provided high-fidelity simulations of the many surveillance and weapon systems involved in the exercise. Scaled Composites’ Proteus experimental aircraft served as the surrogate UAV, providing imagery to operators in the CAVE and CWIN, while flying at more that 50,000 feet over Florida.
The CWIN was connected to the Defense Dept.’s National Training Center in California, demonstrating the viability of integrated joint training in an extended distributed environment. Networking these complex systems in a “man-in-the-loop”/”hardware-in-the-loop” architecture allowed Northrop Grumman to verify the openness of its architecture while identifying and reducing potential risks to any future government programs and high-interest concerns such as software re-use.
“Flying in a robust, user-driven exercise is part of our spiral development approach,” said Paul Meyer, sector vice president for Advanced Capabilities Development. “These highly realistic missions allow us to perform trade studies and conduct risk-mitigation activities as we develop our proposal for a real-time weapons system architecture that can provide commanders with decision quality knowledge.”
The BMC2 subsystem, the operational brain of the Air Force’s E-10A, will be capable of providing immediate air-tasking order execution, with dynamic re-tasking, upon entry into an area of responsibility. It will also provide command and control reachback to critical command centers.
Northrop Grumman’s BMC2 proposal is being led by the company’s Integrated Systems sector. The team includes four other Northrop Grumman sectors (Electronic Systems, Information Technology, Mission Systems and Space Technol