Military Embedded Systems

Northrop Grumman UAS Mission Management Control System completes successful flight demonstration


February 07, 2013

Brandon Lewis

Technology Editor

Embedded Computing Design

Northrop Grumman UAS Mission Management Control System completes successful flight demonstration

SAN DIEGO. The first successful flight of the RQ-4 Global Hawk Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) using Open Architecture (OA)-based Command and Control (C2) software and hardware has been completed by Northrop Grumman. Developed by Northrop’s Common Mission Management System (CMMS), the Mission Management Control System (MMCS) used in the demonstration is an open standards-based common hardware and software architecture intended for implementation across UAS platforms to ease training requirements and increase effectiveness. Held in December, the flight demonstration, was part of the Ground Station Technical Refresh contract and was sponsored by the U.S. Air Force Global Hawk Program Office.

After taking off under U.S. Air Force Launch and Recovery Element (LRE) operator control at Edwards Air Force Base, CA, the Global Hawk’s aircraft controls were transferred to the MMCS located in San Diego. The MMCS then flew the UAS through a series of maneuvers before transferring control back to the LRE for landing.

"This demonstration validates our approach to common, modular, multiplatform mission control systems," said Doug Valenzuela, Northrop Grumman's program manager for the Ground Station Technical Refresh program. "We were able to reuse components from proven programs and integrate them into a common standards-based infrastructure to establish a baseline that will meet the requirements of multiple programs. This is truly a huge step toward meeting the objective of a common UAS mission control solution."

Built on standard Commercial Off-The-Shelf (COTS) hardware and core software, the CMMS product line will enable pilots to operate a range of dissimilar unmanned platforms with the same control features and informational displays. Because CMMS is based on industry standards, control system development and technical upgrade time will also be decreased.

"The CMMS product center is a game changer. It is a new way of thinking about unmanned aircraft systems and their mission management and control architectures," said Mike Leahy, director of CMMS for Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems. "The CMMS approach offers multiple benefits, including savings in both acquisition, and operational and maintenance costs. This approach eliminates stove-piped systems and simplifies training requirements."


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