EL SEGUNDO, Calif., June 24, 2003 (PRIMEZONE) -- Military commanders recently had their first chance to include realistic B-2 stealth bombers "flown" by U.S. Air Force pilots in their simulated airborne command-and-control exercises as part of the Air Force's Desert Pivot virtual war games at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M.
It was all thanks to an interactive, "man-in-the-loop" B-2 mission simulator provided by Northrop Grumman Corporation's (NYSE:NOC) Cyber Warfare Integration Network (CWIN), a distributed, virtual battlefield environment developed by the company's Integrated Systems sector in El Segundo, Calif. The integration of the simulator in the May 19-23 Desert Pivot games marked the first time that a defense contractor has participated directly in the quarterly "Virtual Flag" exercises.
Northrop Grumman linked the simulator, which includes a full-scale B-2 cockpit and high-fidelity computer simulation of the B-2 aircraft, directly to the Air Force's Theater Aerospace Command and Control Simulation Facility, home of the Desert Pivot exercises. It allowed B-2 pilots in El Segundo to receive air-tasking orders from command and control assets, then "fly" a series of realistic bombing missions as part of a larger Desert Pivot scenario.
"CWIN provides a highly interactive, real-time mission training environment for our customers," said Paul Mueller, Northrop Grumman's CWIN director of business and strategy development in El Segundo. "Its inclusion in Desert Pivot is just one of many ways CWIN can be used to develop new, more highly integrated concepts for conducting military operations in a three-dimensional battle space."
Northrop Grumman's participation in Desert Pivot was funded by the Air Force Electronic Systems Command, Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass.
Desert Pivot, the simulation world's Red Flag equivalent, is a recurring, multiservice training event for aircrews; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets; shooters; and command and control systems. It provides live, constructive and virtual training in a highly realistic, weeklong exercise. Simulated missions are conducted at the combat operations and tactical levels of war, providing full interaction between aircrews and other command, control, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance and strike platforms.
CWIN, which Northrop Grumman began operating in May 2002, is an outgrowth of modeling and simulation capabilities developed by the company in the late 1980s. Those capabilities were originally used to help refine engineering requirements for individual airborne platforms.
Today, through company investments of more than $50 million, CWIN has become a virtual "system of systems," integrated battlefield environment. It uses physics-based models, realistic terrain databases and operational command and control software to simulate many types of operational scenarios involving airborne and space-based sensor platforms, strike platforms and command and control elements.
CWIN's modeling and simulation computer assets are currently operating at Northrop Grumman sites in El Segundo and Melbourne, Fla., and will soon be operational at company sites in Bethpage, N.Y.; Colorado Springs, Colo.; Washington, D.C., and Rancho Bernardo, Calif., all linked by secure T-1 phone lines. Operators at different sites can collaborate in real time on the same scenario, carrying out their designated missions under the watchful eye of one commander. CWIN also has the capability to be linked to other U.S. defense contractor and U.S. government sites.
The company uses CWIN both as an engineering tool to support current programs such as the B-2, F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and unmanned combat air vehicle and as a "laboratory" for its customers to experiment with new military concepts of operations.
"CWIN helps commanders identify new ways to interconnect and exploit information that's already being collected by individual platforms," said Mueller. "The more we integrate the information, the higher the probability that a commander can make good decisions in the 'fog of war.' If CWIN does its job, we'll help shorten the time between first detection of a target and its destruction and assessment from hours currently to single-digit minutes."
In addition to the B-2 simulator, Northrop Grumman's 6,800-square-foot CWIN facility in El Segundo includes two other simulation facilities: a Battle Management Arena and a Force Level Lab. The Battle Management Arena includes a 10-foot by 40-foot display, and 30 command-and-control operator stations. The wall-sized, three-screen display presents high-fidelity graphical representations of the battlefield to the operators as they carry out command-and-control assignments required by each mission. The Force Level Lab includes four mock tactical fighter cockpits. With software, the cockpits can be configured as either friendly or enemy aircraft and "flown" in real time as part of a mission. Any combination of the three simulation facilities can participate in any mission scenario.
Northrop Grumman Integrated Systems, based in El Segundo, Calif., is a premier aerospace and defense systems integration enterprise. As one of Northrop Grumman Corporation's seven sectors, it designs, develops, produces and supports network-enabled integrated systems and subsystems for U.S. government, civil and international customers. Integrated Systems delivers best-value solutions, products and services that support military missions in the areas of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; battle management command and control; and integrated strike warfare.
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