Microwave Journal

Northrop Grumman Expands Radar Role in Missile Testing

January 15, 2007

In the fall, Northrop Grumman-developed C-band radar for the US Navy participated in the successful test of the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system, marking the first time a Navy Strategic Systems Program radar has been used by the US Missile Defense Agency (MDA) to optimize data collection and enhance mission success. The GMD test occurred on September 1, 2006, and involved launching a ground-based interceptor from Vandenberg Air Force Base, CA.

This test adds to Northrop Grumman’s ongoing success using this extremely mobile radar, year-round, to collect data on Navy ballistic missile tests in both Pacific and Atlantic test ranges. As a trusted supplier of transportable large-dish radars, Northrop Grumman has demonstrated the ability to rapidly relocate large radar systems worldwide to remote land locations and aboard sea-based platforms on demand.

The GMD test is one such example of the company’s ability to bring a radar on-line to a sea-based platform in a short time frame. Within three weeks of a request for additional assets, Northrop Grumman—under the direction of the US Navy Strategic Systems Program Office—relocated the Navy Mobile Instrumentation System (NMIS) C-band radar from Cape Canaveral, FL, to California, and installed the radar system aboard the Navy ship USNS Pathfinder. The ship was then positioned approximately 600 miles off the coast of California to track the interceptor flight.

“This disassembly, ground transport, reassembly and installation of the Northrop Grumman-developed radar aboard the USNS Pathfinder within a three week window demonstrates Northrop Grumman’s ability to respond to rapid real-world situations requiring high performance discriminating radars,” said Frank Moore, vice president of the Northrop Grumman Missile Defense Division. “The valuable data collected from this additional radar asset will further enhance MDA’s ability to thoroughly analyze system performance and build confidence in future flight tests.”

The radar successfully tracked the GMD interceptor from the point it broke the horizon, throughout separation and intercept. Data is being combined with information from other sensors to provide a thorough analysis to MDA of all aspects of the test to make adjustments to ensure future mission success.

The NMIS C-band radar is an instrumentation radar used normally for data collection and Navy missile testing, under contract to Navy SSP. The company has also developed mechanically steered radars to support major US weapons test and evaluation programs for the US Navy, where Northrop Grumman is a major provider of block upgrades.