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Airborne Infrared Sensor Cued In ABM Test With The Integrated Sensor Manager
by Staff Writers
Navair Sea Range, CA (SPX) Aug 11, 2011

illustration only

Northrop Grumman has successfully completed the first test to demonstrate real-time cueing of the Airborne Infrared (ABIR) sensor for the Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS) with the Integrated Sensor Manager (ISM).

The company's ISM completed the early intercept proof-of-concept exercise by participating as an associated operation in the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) FTX-17 test on July 8.

ISM is a prototype capability Northrop Grumman is developing for the MDA to enable more accurate tracking and threat identification for intercepting a missile earlier in flight.

These improvements are required for the MDA's Phased Adaptive Approach (PAA) that will integrate incremental capabilities over several years to enhance defense against emerging ballistic missile threats.

During the test, ISM received 2-D measurements received from space-based sensors observing the FTX-17 target, which was drop-launched from the rear of a C-17 cargo aircraft over the Pacific Ocean Test Range off the California coast.

ISM formed and provided 3-D tracks to MDA's Experimentation Laboratory (X-Lab). After receiving a tasking command from the X-Lab, ISM sent a cue to the ABIR sensor at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., and continued to provide cue updates as new measurement data was received.

"ABIR is a critical element for the PAA and our successful test shows we can command that sensor to generate actionable information to enable earlier intercept," said Kelley Zelickson, vice president of air and missile defense systems for Northrop Grumman Information Systems.

"It's a significant achievement to execute the ISM's first-time live cueing of an ABIR sensor to bring us closer to the desired Aegis launch-on-remote capability."

MDA's current operational concept envisions the ABIR platform and sensors forward in theater for early detection and surveillance of the threat. The ISM FTX-17 exercise utilized a ground-based ABIR sensor. Future experiments will progress with multiple, airborne sensors and more complex scenarios over the next two years.

ISM is being developed under an MDA Joint National Integration Center Research and Development Contract task order.

The Command, Control, Battle Management, and Communications ISM prototype capability will demonstrate

+ improved ability to task sensors for acquisition, correlation and tracking;

+ generate position, velocity and acceleration data of objects in flight;

+ perform target feature extraction and discrimination for early identification of threats;

+ and optimize the use of limited sensor and interceptor resources to defend against growing missile threats.

The task order requires participation in flight and ground tests to validate performance.

The BMDS is a complex system of sensors, interceptors and a command and control, battle management and communications network. The integration of these many elements will enable a robust, layered defense to deter and defend against a hostile missile attack.

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