Press Release

Northrop Grumman’s Newest Fire Control Software Guides Missile Defense Program to Successful Flight Test

By SpaceRef Editor
January 27, 2004
Filed under , ,

Northrop Grumman
Corporation played a vital role in today’s test
of the Ground-based Midcourse Defense missile defense system,
supplying two key products that helped guide the test to
a successful outcome.

Conducted by the U.S. Missile Defense Agency, the test involved
launching a Ground-based Midcourse Defense interceptor,
from the Reagan Test Site in the Marshall Islands, against
a simulated hostile target to demonstrate key capabilities
of the interceptor and to monitor and analyze booster flight,
kill vehicle separation, and in-flight communication with
the interceptor after launch.

The company’s Mission Systems sector furnished its newest
version of the Ground-based Midcourse Defense fire control
and communications capability, and the command launch equipment
software, both of which performed as expected.

“The fire control and communications component is the integrating
element that ties together the components of the complex
Ground-based Midcourse Defense system,” said Jerry Agee,
vice president and general manager, Missile Defense Division,
Northrop Grumman Mission Systems. “This latest version of
the fire control software included several new capabilities
to more effectively coordinate the operation of the sensors
and the interceptor during the flight, thus providing improved
battle management information and situation awareness data
to commanders.”

The fire control and communications component functions
as the command and control center for all integrated flight
tests. It collects and fuses the sensor reports from surrogate
radars and the ground-based radar prototype, and uses this
data to generate and send an engagement plan to the ground-based
interceptor. Communications hardware and software provide
the data links to connect all components of the system for
the test.

Northrop Grumman’s fire control and communications products
have performed successfully in every flight test to date
and were recently recognized with a CMMI Level 5 Rating
from the Software Engineering Institute for best practices
in software development.

Today’s test also marked the first use of the newly redesigned
In-Flight Interceptor Communications System Data Terminal.
The data terminal, developed by Northrop Grumman and its
major subcontractor (Harris Corporation), successfully communicated
updated target information to the interceptor after launch,
a key element in Ground-based Midcourse Defense’s defensive
capability.

The command launch equipment software uses an engagement
plan produced by the fire-control software to plan the intercept
trajectory. It provides that information to the interceptor
and monitors its health and status up through the time it
commands the vehicle to launch. The flight test successfully
demonstrated the capabilities of the command launch equipment
software and its interfaces to fire control and communications,
and the booster and kill vehicle elements of the interceptor.

Work on the fire control and communications and command
launch equipment software products is performed in Huntsville,
Ala., Anaheim, Calif., Colorado Springs, Colo., Melbourne,
Fla., and Arlington, Va.

Northrop Grumman’s Role in Missile Defense

The full spectrum of missile defense programs at Northrop
Grumman includes prime contractor roles for the Kinetic
Energy Interceptors program, Defense Support Program satellite,
the Space Tracking and Surveillance System (STSS), the Joint
National Integration Center, the Joint Tactical Ground Station,
and the Liquid Booster target program. Northrop Grumman
is also playing a leading role developing and upgrading
the Aegis platform.

Key roles on the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) program
include the GMD Fire Control/Communications System, the
Command Launch Equipment Command and Control system, the
canister package for the Ground-based Interceptor, and support
for the launch of target vehicles from Vandenberg Air Force
Base.

As a leader in chemical lasers, Northrop Grumman is developing
the high-power chemical laser component of the U.S. Missile
Defense Agency’s Airborne Laser program and has designed
and built the Tactical High Energy Laser for the U.S. Army
and the Israel Ministry of Defence. Northrop Grumman also
provides payloads and mission processing for SBIRS-High
and STSS, support services and active/passive sensor technology.

Northrop Grumman Corporation is a $25 billion global defense
company, headquartered in Los Angeles, Calif. Northrop Grumman
provides technologically advanced, innovative products,
services and solutions in systems integration, defense electronics,
information technology, advanced aircraft, shipbuilding
and space technology. With approximately 120,000 employees
and operations in all 50 states and 25 countries, Northrop
Grumman serves U.S. and international military, government
and commercial customers.

SpaceRef staff editor.