Northrop Grumman Exploring New C4ISR Capabilities

Northrop Grumman [NOC] believes rapidly growing the capabilities of its electronics in a way that lowers the overall cost of ownership will well-position it in among future C4ISR capabilities, according to a company executive.

Northrop Grumman Vice President of Advanced Concepts and Technologies Pat Antkowiak said to rapidly grow capabilities and lower overall cost of ownership, the company is focusing on four key areas including multi-function sensors, machine learning and cognitive systems, secure and trusted networks and open architectures. Open integration, Antkowiak said, and the company’s offerings in platforms, sensors, processing and C3 form a great basis for a C4ISR asymmetric advantage.

Northrop Grumman President of Electronic Systems Gloria Flach and company Vice President of Defense Systems Michael Twyman discuss the future of C4ISR capabilities yesterday in Washington. Photo: Northrop Grumman.

Antkowiak and other Northrop Grumman executives yesterday previewed the company’s future C4ISR efforts at the National Press Club in Washington. Northrop Grumman in a statement said it defines C4ISR as creating an overwhelming advantage through situational awareness, knowledge of the adversary and environment and shortening the time between sensing and shooting through the use of command and communications systems.

Antkowiak described multifunction sensors as systems that implement multiple functions in one set of hardware and software. Platforms like radio frequency (RF) sensors, he said, provide opportunity to converge radar, electronic warfare (EW), electronic attack, information operations and communications, to name a few. Antkowiak said technology has improved to the point where Northrop Grumman can conceive of a software-defined ISR sensor.

Antkowiak also said the company sees opportunity in the area of machine learning and cognitive sensors due to the growth in cloud computing and “big data.” Machine learning is the science behind getting computers to act without instruction. As search engines become better at predicting peoples’ searches, Antkowiak said machine learning can provide enormous opportunities in the world of C4ISR.

“You think of some of the best chess players in the world now, (they’re) computers,” Antkowiak said. “This idea of machine learning is really helping us deliver amazing new services.”

With an improvement in machine learning technology, Antkowiak said Northrop Grumman can combine it with its sensing technology to develop fully scalable machines that can adapt to environments and not just give a good view.

“(They) don’t just forensically give us a view of where we’ve been going, but they start to predict where we need to be and anticipate what the threat will be doing,” Antkowiak said. “We go from response to anticipatory kinds of systems. This is a phenomenal kind of thing that can really help us.”

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