Global-Hawk, Joint STARS Share Target Tracks on First Joint Mission

Discussion in 'Military Aviation' started by cobra commando, Mar 8, 2013.

  1. cobra commando

    cobra commando Tharki regiment Veteran Member Senior Member

    Oct 3, 2009
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    US Air Force E-8C Joint STARS. Photo: Northrop Grumman

    Northrop Grumman Corporation recently completed a successful exchange of radar data during a flight test involving the U.S. Air Force’s E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (Joint STARS) and the RQ-4B Global Hawk Block 40 unmanned aircraft system equipped with MP-RTIP radar. The RQ-4B Block 40 first flew with MP-RTIP radar in November 2011.

    During the mission that took place February 25 the Global Hawk Block 40 an streamed ground moving target (GMTI) radar data to a Joint STARS aircraft representing “a significant leap forward in terms of possible capabilities for our warfighters,” according to Bryan Lima, Joint STARS program director at Northrop Grumman. “[our] Findings showed increased precision, improved target tracking and the ability to extend the surveillance coverage area. By combining the capabilities of these platforms, we’ve unlocked increased battle management potential, not only by expanding coverage of the surveillance area, but also for compressing the targeting and attack decision chain for warfighters.”
    Lima explained.On typical missions Global Hawk Block 40 streams radar cues and GMTI data are used to find, identify and locate both
    stationary and moving targets. The radar images and GMTI tracks are fed into the Distributed Common Ground Station (DCGS) – a common intelligence repository operated by the U.S. Air Force and Army. Analysts subscribed to DCGS receive the data exploiting MP-RTIP Radar imagery into analysed data fed to the combat commands through the DCGS and Battle Management Nodes, where GMTI tracks indicating target movement can also be monitored.

    Crewmen of E-3C monitoring the SAR radar screens on board the J-STARS. Photo: Northrop Grumman

    Monitoring the drone’s radar sensors in real time, The Global Hawk Mission Control Element (MCE) are involved, to alter collection in real-time in support battle plans. MCE also provides the data servers to store the MP-RTIP radar data and correlate GMTI detection to form target tracks. Acting upon the information provided by the system, as well as from other intelligence inputs, the combat command nominates targets for battle management nodes to
    consider for attack while the battle management command and control (BMC2) directs weapons to attack those targets based on SAR and GMTI cues.

    “The [Feb. 25] flight successfully demonstrated the interoperability of both platforms to potentially improve and expand surveillance capabilities for deployed forces. “Operators in the Joint STARS aircraft were able to use the Global Hawk as an adjunct sensor,” said Lima. “We were able to display and use the Global Hawk’s radar data on the Joint STARS platform to extend and improve the overall surveillance capabilities and utility of both platforms.” as the GMTI data generated by Global Hawk could be processed by Joint STARS could then be relayed from Joint STARS to the ground forces.

    RQ-4B Block 40 carrying the MP-RTIP radar system on its first flight, July 21, 2011. The radar AESA antenna is located in the gondola shaped pod while other radar modules are located in payload bays inside the fuselage. Photo: Northrop Grumman

    Joint STARS is an airborne battle management and command and control platform that conducts ground surveillance of fixed and moving ground targets to develop an understanding of the enemy situation and support location, tracking, targeting and attack operations. Global Hawk carries a variety of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance sensor payloads that allow military commanders to gather imagery and use radar to detect moving or stationary targets on the ground. Capable of flying for more than 30 hours at a time at altitudes up to 60,000 feet, the system also provides airborne communications and information sharing capabilities to military units in harsh environments.

    The radar designed for the Block 40 is the AN/ZPY-2 Multi-Platform Radar Technology Insertion Program (MP-RTIP) sensor, which is an advanced air-to-surface-radar for wide area surveillance of fixed and moving targets. MP-RTIP uses an Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) to combine Synthetic Aperture Radar and Ground Moving Target detection functions, providing ‘game-changing’ situational awareness and targeting information for warfighters.

    The Air Force operates the Block 40 Global Hawks from Grand Forks Air Force Base, in North Dakota. The Global Hawk and Joint STARS were both built by Northrop Grumman.

    Global-Hawk, Joint STARS Share Target Tracks on First Joint Mission | Defense Update - Military Technology & Defense News
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