Northrop Grumman has developed a next-generation electromagnetic intelligence architecture


WASHINGTON – Northrop Grumman executives say the company is now offering a next-generation signal intelligence architecture that has won at least one contract.

Bill Thompson, director of Northrop’s Signals Intelligence Business Unit, said the company wanted to update the existing system it was providing, the Airborne Signals Intelligence Platform.

“Several years ago, when the US defense strategy shifted from counterterrorism to close adversaries, we started hearing new demands from our customers and these were common demands,” Thompson told C4ISRNET in an interview. “The needs that we heard were above all the need for speed for the mission or speed for relevance. “

They’ve developed a new architecture that the company calls SAGE, which includes transceivers and microservices that make up a holistic sensor. SAGE is an open, cloud-native, platform-independent architecture.

With the new architecture, Northrop won an Air Force contract in June for the Global High-altitude Open-system Sensor Technology (GHOST) program. They were one of three companies (BAE Systems and L3Harris Technologies were the other two) chosen to participate in a 12-month prototyping design phase. After this period, the Air Force will choose one to move forward.

SAGE provides physically smaller systems, allowing for greater size, weight and power configuration on board platforms.

“If you look at where our adversaries are in the world, they are in different theaters and may require different software loads and mission techniques. Today it’s a pretty big process to change those mission loads, ”said Thompson.

The Air Force also noted the importance of being able to hook up different systems using open architectures.

“We design it to be platform agnostic or agile, so it’s easily transferable from one airborne platform to another depending on the size, weight and power available, or SWAP,” Jeremy Shock, head of the Signals Intelligence branch, said of GHOST in a press release.

Thompson said SAGE can be configured on the fly – on the flight line or potentially during a mission.

The newly developed transceivers also include significantly increased computing power, allowing the military to be able to collect a wider range and more advanced adversary signals, the company said.

Following the Air Force contract, Northrop said he hoped his architecture would gain work with the military. Thompson pointed to the Multidomain Detection System, a series of high-altitude systems that will help the military cover the vast distances it expects to operate in future conflicts.

“Northrop Grumman would really like to bring the same capability and expertise to support Army missions,” said Thompson.

Mark Pomerleau is a journalist for C4ISRNET, covering information warfare and cyberspace.


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