Northrop Grumman’s F‑35 DAS and Radar Demonstrate Ability to Detect, Track, Target Ballistic Missiles

LINTHICUM, Md. — Northrop Grum­man Cor­po­ra­tion (NYSE:NOC) recent­ly demon­strat­ed the bal­lis­tic mis­sile detec­tion, track­ing and tar­get­ing capa­bil­i­ties of the company’s AN/AAQ-37 dis­trib­uted aper­ture sys­tem (DAS) and AN/APG-81 active elec­tron­i­cal­ly scanned array (AESA) radar, both of which are fea­tured on the F‑35 Joint Strike Fight­er (JSF) air­craft.

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Lever­ag­ing NASA’s Sci­ence Mis­sion Direc­torate-spon­sored Anom­alous Trans­port Rock­et Exper­i­ment launch oper­a­tion, the demon­stra­tion was coor­di­nat­ed with NASA and the U.S. Air Force to ensure that it did not impact NASA’s pri­ma­ry sci­ence mis­sion goals. The sys­tems were demon­strat­ed in flight onboard the company’s BAC1-11 test­bed air­craft.

Northrop Grumman’s DAS and APG-81 autonomous­ly detect­ed, tracked and tar­get­ed mul­ti­ple, simul­ta­ne­ous bal­lis­tic rock­ets. The DAS autonomous­ly detect­ed all five rock­ets, launched in rapid suc­ces­sion, and tracked them from ini­tial launch well past the sec­ond stage burnout.

“Northrop Grum­man demon­strat­ed these bal­lis­tic mis­sile track­ing modes with only minor mod­i­fi­ca­tions to the base­line F‑35 JSF radar and DAS soft­ware,” said Jeff Leav­itt, vice pres­i­dent of Northrop Grumman’s com­bat avion­ic sys­tems busi­ness unit. “Since DAS is always star­ing simul­ta­ne­ous­ly in every direc­tion, an oper­a­tor does not have to point the sen­sor in the direc­tion of a tar­get to gain a track. The F‑35 pilot could con­tin­ue the pri­ma­ry mis­sion while the sen­sors auto­mat­i­cal­ly observe bal­lis­tic mis­sile threats.”

The APG-81 AESA radar demon­strat­ed the abil­i­ty to pro­vide acqui­si­tion and weapons qual­i­ty tracks inde­pen­dent­ly, and also via point­ing cues from DAS for expe­dit­ed and extend­ed range tar­get acqui­si­tion. The radar main­tained each track from ini­tial acqui­si­tion until the rock­et exit­ed the radar’s field of view.

Leav­itt added that Northrop Grum­man is cur­rent­ly explor­ing how the exist­ing DAS tech­nol­o­gy could assist in sev­er­al addi­tion­al mis­sion areas, includ­ing irreg­u­lar war­fare oper­a­tions.

The mul­ti­func­tion AN/APG-81 AESA radar is capa­ble of the full range of air-to-air and air-to-sur­face capa­bil­i­ties com­ple­ment­ed by sig­nif­i­cant elec­tron­ic war­fare and intel­li­gence, sur­veil­lance and recon­nais­sance func­tions. The AN/AAQ-37 DAS pro­vides pas­sive spher­i­cal aware­ness for the F‑35, simul­ta­ne­ous­ly detect­ing and track­ing air­craft and mis­siles in every direc­tion, and pro­vid­ing visu­al imagery for day/night nav­i­ga­tion and tar­get­ing pur­pos­es.

Northrop Grum­man is a lead­ing glob­al secu­ri­ty com­pa­ny pro­vid­ing inno­v­a­tive sys­tems, prod­ucts and solu­tions in aero­space, elec­tron­ics, infor­ma­tion sys­tems, and tech­ni­cal ser­vices to gov­ern­ment and com­mer­cial cus­tomers world­wide. Please vis­it for more infor­ma­tion.

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