Northrop completes demo of UAS common mission management software

Northrop Grumman has successfully completed a flight demonstration of a new mission control system for unmanned aircraft designed to boost mission effectiveness and reduce training requirements, the company said Feb. 7.

The flight demonstration occurred during the recent flight of an RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned aircraft that used the open architecture-based command and control software known as Mission Management Control System (MMCS), the company said. The demonstration has moved the company a step closer to offerings the MMCS product for use with multiple unmanned aircraft systems (UAS).

The demonstration was sponsored by the Air Force's Global Hawk Program Office as part of the Ground Station Technical Refresh contract, the company said.

MMCS is based upon an open, nonproprietary, standards-based, scalable, common architecture and service descriptions, the company said.

During the flight demonstration, a Global Hawk took off under operator control through the U.S. Air Force Launch and Recovery Element (LRE) at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. When the Global Hawk was aloft, aircraft control was successfully transferred to the MMCS located at the Global Hawk Systems Integration Laboratory in San Diego. The aircraft was then flown through a series of maneuvers until control was transferred back to the LRE for landing.

The Air Force's Ground Station Technical Refresh contract is intended to serve as a stepping stone for continued development of common UAS control systems that can be used by a variety of unmanned platforms, the company said. In the existing environment, each UAS requires a costly dedicated, custom-built command and control system. By developing a common foundation for command and control with sufficient flexibility to meet a range of standards, CMMS will ultimately be able to support a variety of UAS platforms.

The CMMS product line is built upon standard off-the-shelf commercial hardware and core software infrastructure that decreases the time required to develop new unmanned control systems and enhances future technical upgrades because the system architecture is based upon well defined industry standards, the company said. Additionally, with the CMMS product line, pilots will be able to operate a variety of dissimilar unmanned platforms using the same informational displays and control features, thereby improving mission effectiveness while reducing training requirements.

 

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