Northrop Grumman, best known for its World War II era fighters and the F-14 Tomcat ? until recently, the U.S. Navy?s premier carrier-based air-defense fighter. Northrop Grumman [NYSE: NOC] has struggled slightly as its share price dipped below $40 a share in March of 2009 but has rebounded positively with a closing share price of $55.89 at market?s close on Dec. 4, 2009.
The International Data Links Society’s Annual Symposium took place in Vienna, Austria from the 2nd to the 4th of December at the Messezentrum Wien Exhibition and Congress Center. NG was touting its shiny new defense hardware; in this case Tactical Data Links [TDL PDF download].
Northrop Grumman states: "Tactical data links are essential components of integrated information networks and provide the armed forces with the ability to exchange real-time information to ensure close coordination of operations, from secure voice, data and video to picture generation and weapon assignment. Northrop Grumman’s planning and management software is the industry standard for TDL."
What NG was highlighting at this year’s show was their internationally exportable family of network-centric command and control systems including the software applications Command and Control for the PC [C2PC] and Interoperable C4I Services [ICS] as well as Agile Client and the Harbor Coastal Security System [HCS]. Among the data link technologies on display are the Gateway Manager and Multi-Link Service Gateway [MLSG] products. Gateway Manager is a powerful data link router and forwarder that give commanders the ability to network multiple platforms communicating on different protocols while providing a comprehensive operational picture in real time. Multi-Link Service Gateway is a modular, scalable data link processor suitable for maritime, land, and headquarters installations that provides standalone platform capability with an upgrade path on new and existing platforms.
Also highlighted are Northrop Grumman’s Common Link Integration Processing [CLIP] software solution, Tactical Data Link Integration Exerciser [TIGER PDF Download] and Distributed Simulation and Stimulation System [DS3].
The CLIP software solution performs data transformation and processes protocols for dissimilar communications formats allowing existing platforms without a tactical data link, as well as platforms with different data links, to communicate with each other.
TIGER performs data link testing for CLIP and JSS programmes by stimulating systems under test with tactical scenarios, including Link 16, Link 11, Link 22 and more. Analysts use the TIGER scenario developer programme to script reusable scenarios for real-time testing.
DS3 provides high fidelity sensor simulation for a multitude of sensors, including rotating radars, phased array radars, and identification, friend-or-foe transponders. DS3’s tactical environment simulator stimulates combat systems with sensor, navigation and weapon system inputs.
The Joint Interface Control Officer [JICO] Support System, the next generation of joint and coalition network-management systems, is also available for viewing. This system provides net-centric services through a transformational management system to enable IP-based networks of the future to operate efficiently with current tactical networks.
What we?d really like to know is how much does all of this high technology cost? Couldn?t we save a buck or two if we all "just get along" and cease hostilities? Sure we could, but from a quick glance at a few global TV newscasts, it doesn?t look like global peace will come anytime soon. While we attempt to get the strains of Kumbaya, we?re hoping the upgraded network technology will at least reduce civilian casualties, collateral damage and the dreaded "blue on blue" [friendly fire] disasters ? if not eliminate them completely. We?re also curious as to what new technologies will emerge from this new tech. After all, a single DARPA project spawned the internet and worldwide web.