Northrop Grumman Corp. recently performed successful high speed captive flight tests of its multi-mode, air-to-ground terminal guidance seeker during moving-target engagement exercises at Eglin Air Force Base. The exercises, conducted by the US Air Force Research Laboratory, in cooperation with Northrop Grumman, the Boeing Co. and Rockwell Collins, successfully demonstrated the seeker’s capability to find, fix, track, target, engage and access tactical moving targets based upon targeting information provided by ground forward air controllers through a weapon data link.

The demonstration featured a Boeing weapon pod simulating the Small Diameter Bomb. This pod contained the multi-mode seeker, a Boeing weapon mission computer and a Rockwell Collins Link-16 weapon data link. The seeker’s ability to find, track and engage single and multiple moving targets versus varying target speed, aspect and Link-16 data link update rates was evaluated. The tests were conducted in varying weather conditions, including low ceilings and limited visibility. The Northrop Grumman multi-mode seeker successfully acquired and tracked targets with greater than a 97 percent success rate at tactically useful ranges. The tests also evaluated the ability to use target position updates data linked to the seeker from ground forward air controllers to accurately acquire the correct target. The target position data was obtained using Northrop Grumman’s eye-safe Lightweight Laser Designator Rangefinder. “The demonstration’s success provides a preview of future network-centric warfare,” said Jock McKinley, director of Strike Programs for Northrop Grumman’s Systems Development and Technology Division. “The successful demonstration supports the Air Force’s requirements to field smart weapons that are interoperable with today’s platforms and to enhance mission effectiveness by utilizing network-centric and joint operations.”