Northrop Grumman achieved a major milestone by successfully completing the initial Technology Maturation phase for the U.S. Navy’s Next Generation Jammer program.
A key event was an extensive series of in-flight demonstrations of its prototype pod and prime power generation (PPG) system.
The company has also received a $20 million contract to further advance the critical technology development elements of its Next Generation Jammer solution and mature the concept demonstrator design.
The objective of the flight demonstration was to validate aerodynamic performance of the pod and the ability of the ram air turbine design to generate the vast amounts of power needed to meet the Navy’s requirements while reducing overall risk. All test objectives were successfully met and the demonstrated power generation performance exceeded initial estimates, thus allowing Northrop Grumman to seamlessly transition into the Technology Development phase of the program.
The successful flight tests were the result of detailed design and integration activity conducted by the Northrop Grumman team since being awarded a TM contract in July 2010, as well as Northrop Grumman’s broad mission expertise, earned from many years as the industry leader in airborne electronic attack and detailed understanding of aircraft integration gained as the AEA system integrator on the EA-18G.
This background provided the basis for the disciplined engineering process steps that got the team to this point, including; mission and operational analysis and trades, preliminary design of the pod and RAT, many hours of computational fluid dynamics analysis, multiple design refinements, construction of the prototype pod, wind tunnel verification – all leading to the successful inflight performance validation.
Working with the Calspan Corporation’s Flight Research group at Niagara Falls International Airport, the Northrop Grumman team integrated its highly instrumented pod with Calspan’s Gulfstream G-III Airborne Test Bed. These flights successfully demonstrated the ability of the design to satisfy the performance needs of NGJ in a truly relevant environment and validated predicted performance and fidelity of the CFD and wind tunnel analysis.
Calspan Vice President Brian Ernisse, test pilot for the G-III during all of the flights and a former USAF test pilot with extensive experience in the F-22, F-16 and F-15, remarked that the pod-equipped aircraft handled “magnificently” during the flights.
Steve Hogan, vice president, Information Operations and Electronic Attack, Northrop Grumman, said, “A key goal in our Next Generation Jammer approach is ensuring we identify and mitigate technical risks early. I believe these tests go a long way in meeting that goal and are a testament to our team’s innovation, technical know-how and dedication to winning the next phase of this critical program.”
As a requirement of the Navy’s Technology Maturation phase of the Next Generation Jammer program, Northrop Grumman is developing critical technology elements and critical design review level designs of concept demonstrators to be built and tested during the Technology Demonstration phase of the program.
“Northrop Grumman is well positioned to successfully move into this next phase of the Next Generation Jammer program with the U.S. Navy,” said Hogan. “We are ready, and eager, to continue our proud legacy of service to the U.S. Navy, naval aviation and the electronic attack community.”