Northrop Grumman Team Completes First In-Flight AESA Communications

6/13/2007 - BALTIMORE, MD -- Northrop Grumman Corporation and its teammates L-3 Communications, Inc. and Lockheed Martin Corporation have successfully conducted the first in-flight communication's link with an active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar.

"We took our targeting radar and turned it into a 'talking' radar by enabling it to transmit and receive unprecedented amounts of information," said Teri Marconi, vice president of Northrop Grumman's combat avionics business unit. "We're revolutionizing the way that data is collected, stored and distributed on the battlefield."

The Radar Common Data Link (R-CDL) represents the most advanced concept and approach in providing a high-speed pipeline to offload data and imagery from a tactical platform. R-CDL uses the AESA radar's fire control transmitter and antenna to perform high-data rate, two-way communications at long ranges.

Synthetic aperture radar map imagery and streaming video were relayed from a Northrop Grumman BAC 1-11 test aircraft to an L-3 Communications ground station. During the mission, the team transmitted and received in full duplex at 274-megabits per second burst rate. The airborne and ground terminals used off-the-shelf, L-3 programmable modems with the addition of a new R-CDL waveform.

This capability complements tactical data links and supports potential future missions conducted by the Lockheed Martin fifth-generation fighter aircraft. This will allow pilots to relay important combat information to the global information grid (GIG) in seconds.

Marconi added that the flight test represents the beginning of new connectivity to the GIG and the next step in network centric warfare.

Source: Northrop Press Release

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