Serves As Link For Ground Forces
A Bombardier Global Express on loan from Northrop Grumman
recently landed at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, to begin an
eight-month testing period on its onboard-communication system. The
jet carries a battlefield airborne communication node that serves
as a communication link between ground units.
The testing is a follow-up to the communication system’s
parent test at MCAS Miramar in November 2005.
"The aircraft will serve as a communication relay in the sky
during ground fighting," said Claude Hashem, director of advanced
systems with Northrop Grumman. "If you want to be able to talk with
someone you don’t have ready-communication with, the jet
serves as a switchboard and provides the connection."
The onboard technology includes the baseline capabilities from
the node’s original flight aboard NASA WB-57 aircraft,
combined with updated, more advanced technology. The WB-57 and the
Global Express were selected because of their high-altitude
capabilities, which prevents the enemy from locating the
"What it will allow for is a common-operating picture for all
services in joint efforts," said Hashem. "At the end of the day, it
gives commanders one picture of everything that happened throughout
the day’s events."
According to Hashem, the aircraft has the capability of being
considered a flying Internet provider as it facilitates
communication between people and infrastructures.
"What we intend to do is install new equipment in the first
month, fly for a few weeks conducting seven or so flights in that
time frame and then install more equipment," said Paul Zavidniak,
technical director with Northrop Grumman. "You can expect the cycle
to repeat several times during the jet’s stay on the
The Global Express can have up to ten different networks working
simultaneously based on signals received from satellite antennas
located on the bottom of the aircraft.
The signal is received and processed through the communication
node, then disseminated to its intended recipient.
"The main idea is that we don’t want people on the ground
to not be able to talk with the people they need to," said
The Global Express, which can reach altitudes as high as 45,000
feet, will be going through its series of flight tests over the
city of San Diego until April of 2008. The aircraft is currently
scheduled to appear as a static display during this year's MCAS
Miramar Air Show, scheduled for October 12-14.
(Aero-News salutes Pfc. Michael R. Stevens, MCAS