The Common Link Integration Processing system being developed by Northrop Grumman has received Milestone C acquisition approval from the U.S. Air Force leading to the fielding of this software package and providing aircrews with enhanced capabilities to communicate critical tactical information.
CLIP software translates and formats messages and allows existing platforms without a tactical data link, as well as platforms with different data links, to communicate with each other.
The Air Force Electronic Systems Center approved the CLIP Milestone C on March 5. Approval was based on criteria including software maturity, operational assessment, interoperability and supportability, life-cycle affordability and information assurance.
CLIP, an Air Force program that also includes Navy platforms, provides a common approach to integrating tactical data links and Internet protocol connectivity. The CLIP software is integrated into combat weapon and command and control systems to enable tactical data link capabilities.
In a series of flight tests in 2010, CLIP software integrated as part of the B-1B Lancer Fully Integrated Data Link program demonstrated the ability to exchange real-time unit and tracking information via the line-of-sight Link 16 data link and the Joint Range Extension Application Protocol networks. JREAP extends the range over which data messages can be transmitted via a satellite channel.
The Joint Interoperability Test Center issued Link 16 and JREAP A Standards Conformance certification for CLIP earlier this year.
Northrop Grumman is integrating CLIP in B-52 aircraft and the U.S. Navy’s MQ-4C Broad Area Maritime Surveillance Unmanned Aerial System, a marinized version of the Air Force RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned air vehicle.
B-52 ground and flight tests are scheduled for completion this year.
Northrop Grumman is the prime contractor for the BAMS UAS and the Global Hawk systems.