SAN DIEGO, August 8, 2006 -- Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC), the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Joint Forces Command successfully completed a series of test flights of the Battlefield Airborne Communications Node (BACN) system during Joint Expeditionary Force Experiment (JEFX) 2006.

BACN is a forward-deployed airborne communications relay and network-centric enterprise information server that allows real-time information exchanges among many different, distant military and commercial communications systems.

The BACN flight tests proved the capability to provide, in operational conditions, fully secured critical digital battlefield and voice information directly to airborne and ground units and command centers. BACN is being developed by Northrop Grumman’s Mission Systems sector for the Air Force Electronic Systems Center at Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass.; the Air Force Aerospace Command and Control, and Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Center at Langley Air Force Base, Va.; and the Joint Forces Command, headquartered in Norfolk, Va.

BACN was one of eight initiatives assessed during JEFX 2006, a series of experiments evaluating new and emerging technologies in a realistic joint and coalition warfighting environment. JEFX was conducted April 21 to 28 at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev.

The system is designed for use in a variety of unmanned and manned aircraft, operating optimally at extremely high altitudes. At JEFX 2006, the BACN payload was carried on NASA’s WB-57 high-altitude aircraft, which served as a surrogate for the Air Force RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicle.

BACN provides a high-speed, Internet protocol (IP)-based airborne network infrastructure that supports seamless movement of imagery, video, voice and digital messages between disparate tactical data and IP networks, giving warfighters access to integrated, shared information and increasing collaboration. The waveforms supported include single-channel ground and airborne radio system (SINCGARS), demand assigned multiple access (DAMA), enhanced position location reporting system (EPLRS)/situation awareness data link (SADL), Link 16, and IP-based networking connectivity using tactical targeting network technology, tactical common data link and 802.11b waveforms.

BACN also provides voice relay and bridging among different tactical and cellular voice systems. This cell phone-to-radio bridging would allow, for example, Special Operations Forces using a cell phone to call directly into a fighter cockpit for targeting information. It would also enable police and fire units to talk with ambulances and the National Guard during a civil emergency.

BACN employs a revolutionary capability developed by Northrop Grumman for the Joint Forces Command, the joint translator/forwarder (JXF), to accomplish digital-message transformation.

At JEFX, BACN successfully demonstrated many “first operational capabilities,” including simultaneous direct dissemination of data from joint surveillance target attack radar system (JSTARS) aircraft to disadvantaged users – such as soldiers, airmen or Marines in the field – and global IP dissimilation to warfighters via its information broker technology.

“BACN provides a comprehensive communication network for users in a forward tactical area or in a homeland area where communications have been disrupted by disaster,” said Mike Twyman, vice president of Northrop Grumman Mission Systems' communication and information systems business unit. “The joint government and Northrop Grumman team is building the joint airborne network infrastructure. Our next test flight will leverage the Common Link Integration Processing system to integrate tactical network information into an integrated air picture.”

The Northrop Grumman team includes the NASA Johnson Space Center, Houston; Rockwell Collins, Cedar Rapids, Iowa; Raytheon Solipsys, Laurel, Md.; L3 Communications, Salt Lake City; Qualcomm Inc., San Diego; and ViaSat Inc., Carlsbad, Calif. Northrop Grumman’s Space Technology, Integrated Systems and Information Technology sectors also participate on the program.

In addition, Northrop Grumman is the Air Force's JSTARS prime contractor.

Northrop Grumman Corporation is a 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.

  Contacts: Janis Lamar
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