Northrop Grumman and EADS strengthen transatlantic ties

Northrop Grumman is pushing to merge the USA's proposed NATAR solution for NATO's air-to-ground surveillance (AGS) requirement with the rival SOSTAR system.

The company is also offering a Europeanised Global Hawk unmanned air vehicle as a high-altitude long-endurance (HALE) component, as it seeks to further broaden its recently agreed transatlantic tie-up with EADS.


The two firms have agreed to collaborate on a common AGS system for the North Atlantic alliance, one of five deals struck since establishing a working relationship last year. The agreement is for Northrop Grumman and EADS jointly to define and develop an AGS architecture, but it does not yet include the sensor.

Northrop Grumman along with partner Raytheon is pushing a NATAR version of the Multi-Platform-Radar Technology Insertion Programme (MP-RTIP) sensor under development to modernise and expand the US Air Force's Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (JSTARS). EADS has combined with Fiar, Fokker Space, Indra and Thales to push the rival SOSTAR radar.

"Our view is that to have a successful NATO AGS, there must be a European solution. We would like to merge NATAR and SOSTAR and carry forward the strength of both programmes. We think this is really the long-term solution," says Ralph Crosby, Northrop Grumman Integrated System Sector president.

Northrop Grumman has been proposing a 4.9-5.5m (16-18ft) electronically scanned array based on MP-RTIP mounted on an Airbus A321. In concert with EADS, the search for a suitable platform has been widened to include the smaller A318, Fairchild Dornier 928JET or the Fokker 70/100, which has been selected as the trials platform for the SOSTAR-X active-array radar.

The company is also promoting a "Euro Hawk" version of the Global Hawk as a NATO or nationally operated unmanned adjunct to AGS. The USAF has adopted a similar multi-platform approach and plans to supplement JSTARS with an MP-RTIP equipped version of the Global Hawk. Northrop Grumman signed an agreement last year with EADS to co-operate on a HALE unmanned air vehicle.

Germany has already signalled interest and Northrop Grumman plans to conduct a local Global Hawk demonstration late this year, equipped with an EADS electronic and signals intelligence package. The companies have also agreed jointly to pursue airborne electronic equipment opportunities including self-protection jamming.

Source: Flight International