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15 Aug 06. Northrop Grumman Corporation has completed a successful initial installation of its Interim Capability for Airborne Networking (ICAN) onboard the Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (Joint STARS) aircraft to support communications among U.S. Air Force and Army personnel deployed in the Middle East.

ICAN enables a mobile airborne data network communication system that can be used for real-time collaboration via ‘chat rooms’ and e-mail, within a secure, classified environment.

“The employment of ICAN gives U.S. military services a dial-up rate service-like capability for the exchange of timely, decision-quality information to affect command-and-control decisions,” said Wood Parker, president of Northrop Grumman Information Technology’s Intelligence group. “This enabling technology allows Joint STARS operators to share operational information with ground units and command network infrastructure resulting in faster military-operation decision times.”

ICAN technology has enabled Joint STARS crew members to conduct direct communications via chat rooms with ground assets, contributing to the timely assessment and resolution of theater operations. Sharing information over an ICAN-enabled system is also valuable for synchronizing operations among the services.

The entire E-8C fleet will be equipped with ICAN technology by March 2007.

The ICAN capability was developed by Northrop Grumman’s Information Technology (IT) sector in collaboration with the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Information Directorate, Rome, N.Y. Work included system and software development, hardware manufacturing, systems integration and test, and field support.

Northrop Grumman IT’s team members on the program include BAE Systems North America, Rockville, Md.; Critical Technologies Inc. and Millennium Antenna, Utica, N.Y.; and WetStone Technologies, Cortland, N.Y. Northrop Grumman’s Integrated Systems sector led the platform integration and installation of ICAN to the Joint STARS fleet under a contract from the 751st Electronic Systems Group, 551st Electronic Systems Wing, Electronic Systems Center, Hanscom Air Force Base, MA.

In addition to applicability for military operators, ICAN also has potential homeland security applications, particularly for first responders. ICAN can restore communications by supplementing damaged or disrupted infrastructure using relaying and gateway techniques. The result is improved command-and-control capabilities in degraded operating environments.

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