22 Jul 02. Northrop Grumman Corporation’s (NYSE: NOC) Integrated Systems sector
has announced its approach to achieving the United Kingdom Ministry of
Defence (MoD) requirement for WATCHKEEPER, an unmanned system that will
deliver an integrated image intelligence, targeting and exploitation
capability to meet the U.K. land commander’s critical information
The Northrop Grumman industry team, a combination of U.S. and
U.K. companies, recently completed the system definition phase of the
program and has submitted a tender offer for the follow-on system
integration and assurance phase. The team has been working closely
with the MoD for two years to define a solution that achieves the U.K.
warfighter’s intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and
reconnaissance (ISTAR) needs with the best capability at the lowest
“Our industry team has approached WATCHKEEPER as a network-centric, system-of-systems capability,” said Ralph Starace, Northrop Grumman’s WATCHKEEPER program manager. “The foundation of our solution is a C4I architecture driven to deliver timely data exploitation and dissemination of time-critical information so enemy targets can be precisely located, identified and eliminated before they
have time to react.”
Northrop Grumman’s focus on command, control, communications, computers and intelligence (C4I) is key to providing interoperability with other U.K. and NATO ISTAR assets such as ASTOR, attack helicopter and maritime forces. The company has used an extensive modeling and simulation environment to evaluate the WATCHKEEPER capability.
“Drawing upon more than 50 years of experience in unmanned
systems integration, we are leveraging our extensive expertise with
unmanned ISTAR systems such as Global Hawk, Fire Scout and the
demonstration aircraft Pegasus to develop the WATCHKEEPER capability,”
said Robert A. K. Mitchell, vice president for Advanced Systems
Development at Northrop Grumman Integrated Systems.
Northrop said that its UAV platform offerings was the Swiss Ranger system supplied to the Swiss and Finnish Armed Forces and the Northrop Fire Scout in development for the United States armed forces. Mitchell told BATTLESPACE that Fire Scout was continuing its EMD funding for another year although no decision had been made to enter full production. He also said that NG may modify its offering of platforms as the requirement matures. NG has supplied an impressive 97000 UAV systems for the U.S., Japan and Israel amongst others.
The Northrop Grumman industry team includes the company’s
Electronic Systems sector, Baltimore, Md.; its Information Technology
sector, Herndon, Va., and Northrop Grumman Information Technology
Europe, based in Southampton, U.K.
U.K.-based Detica Limited, Guildford, Surrey, provides
requirements assessment and analysis. Ultra Electronics, Greenford,
Middlesex, is the leading developer in the U.K. of datalink systems
analysis and definition. General Dynamics U.K. Ltd., St.
Leonards-on-Sea, East Sussex, provides world-class expertise in U.K.
battlefield digitization; and STASYS, Farnham, Surrey, supports concept
of operations, operational analysis and U.K. Army doctrine.
The Northrop Grumman team’s payload suite features electro-optical/infrared sensors and synthetic aperture radar for continuous day/night, all-weather ISTAR coverage, as well as laser ranging/designating for targeting capability. An element of the system’s air component includes a robust, fully autonomous vertical takeoff and landing system based on a derivative of Northrop Grumman’s
Fire Scout system currently under contract with the U.S. Navy. The air
element does not require a prepared runway and is well suited for
restricted landing areas in urban operations, littoral environments and
General Dynamics U.K. Ltd. is responsible for the ground control segment. General Dynamics brings expertise as prime contractor for the U.K.’