NORTHROP GRUMMAN FIRST CONTRACTOR TO PARTICIPATE DIRECTLY IN AIR FORCE VIRTUAL WAR GAMES
24 Jun 03. Military commanders recently had their first chance to include realistic B-2 stealth bombers “flown” by U.S. Air Force pilots in their simulated airborne command-and-control exercises as part of the Air Force’s Desert Pivot virtual war games at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M. BATTLESPACE Editor Julian Nettlefold was the first UK journalist to see the NG CWIN facility at Melbourne last year, (See NORTHROP GRUMMAN CWIN feature, BATTLESPACE TECHNOLOGIES C4ISTAR, Volume 5 Issues 3 October 2002)
It was all thanks to an interactive, “man-in-the-loop” B-2 mission simulator provided by Northrop Grumman Corporation’s (NYSE: NOC) Cyber Warfare Integration Network (CWIN), a distributed, virtual battlefield environment developed by the company’s Integrated Systems sector in El Segundo, Calif. The integration of the simulator in the May 19-23 Desert Pivot games marked the first time that a defense contractor has participated directly in the quarterly “Virtual Flag” exercises.
Northrop Grumman linked the simulator, which includes a full-scale B-2 cockpit and high-fidelity computer simulation of the B-2 aircraft, directly to the Air Force’s Theater Aerospace Command and Control Simulation Facility, home of the Desert Pivot exercises. It allowed B-2 pilots in El Segundo to receive air-tasking orders from command and control assets, then “fly” a series of realistic bombing missions as part of a larger Desert Pivot scenario.
“CWIN provides a highly interactive, real-time mission training environment for our customers,” said Paul Mueller, Northrop Grumman’s CWIN director of business and strategy development in El Segundo. “Its inclusion in Desert Pivot is just one of many ways CWIN can be used to develop new, more highly integrated concepts for conducting military operations in a three-dimensional battle space.”
Northrop Grumman’s participation in Desert Pivot was funded by the Air Force Electronic Systems Command, Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass.
Desert Pivot, the simulation world’s Red Flag equivalent, is a recurring, multi-service training event for aircrews; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets; shooters; and command and control systems. It provides live, constructive and virtual training in a highly realistic, weeklong exercise. Simulated missions are conducted at the combat operations and tactical levels of war, providing full interaction between aircrews and other command, control, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance and strike platforms.
CWIN, which Northrop Grumman began operating in May 2002, is an outgrowth of modelling and simulation capabilities developed by the company in the late 1980s. Those capabilities were originally used to help refine engineering requirements for individual airborne platforms.
Today, through company investments of more than $50m, CWIN has become a virtual “system of systems,” integrated battlefield environment. It uses physics-based models, realistic terrain databases and operational command and control software to simulate many types of operational scenarios involving airborne and space-based sensor platforms, strike platforms and command and control elements.
CWIN’s modelling and simulation computer assets are currently operating at Northrop Grumman sites in El Segundo and Melbourne, Fla., and will soon be operational at company sites in Bethpage, N.Y.; Colorado Springs, Colo.; Washington, D.C., and Rancho Bernardo, Calif., all linked by secure T-1 phone lines. Operators at different sites can collaborate in real time on the same scenario, carrying out their designated missions under the watchful eye of one commander. CWIN also has the capability to be linked to other U.S. defense contractor and U.S. government sites.
The company uses CWIN both as an engineering tool to support current programs such as the B-2, F-35 Joint Strike Fig