Northrop Grumman [NOC] is working with the Air Force to develop and field a gateway translator for multiple aircraft and systems to connect together under the Advanced Battle Management Program (ABMS).

Northrop Grumman has been tasked to build a prototype for the GatewayONE, a radio and antenna system that will enable various platforms to communicate with one another under an indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity contract awarded in October 2019, the company said May 1.

“Under the contract, … Northrop Grumman is providing engineering, management and technical assistance for the Air Force’s integration of net-centric fifth-to-fifth generation aircraft communications capabilities and other platforms into a modular, open-architecture gateway,” Northrop Grumman said in a Friday statement.

A GatewayONE system built by Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin [LMT] and Honeywell [HON] was demonstrated on a static display during the Air Force’s inaugural ABMS demonstration in December 2019, officials previously told reporters. (Defense Daily, Feb. 21). The service had planned to perform technology “sprints” every four months to test new capabilities that could contribute to the ABMS portfolio, although the second demonstration scheduled for April has been postponed to June in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The system will incorporate Northrop Grumman’s Freedom software-defined radio product line to connect fifth-generation aircraft to each other and to fourth-generation platforms, the company said.

Northrop Grumman said testing of a flight-representative configuration will be conducted in a systems integration laboratory, on the ground, and in the air. The capability could potentially be used to network together low-cost attritable aircraft also being developed by the Air Force, the statement noted.

“We’re constantly advancing capabilities in networking and communications focused on large-scale modular, open architecture systems-of-systems solutions,” said Roshan Roeder, company vice president for communications, airborne sensors and networks. “We are working closely with the Air Force to design and deliver to the field, advanced communications systems quickly and affordably.”

GatewayONE is among more than two dozen new product lines that the Air Force is pursuing under the Advanced Battle Management System program. Preston Dunlap, ABMS architect, previously told reporters that the service has broken down the ABMS issue into six product categories and, within that, 28 product lines that it plans to pursue. “Each of those product lines will have their own development schedule and testing and demonstration schedule, but every four months, we want to run them through this wash cycle … asking the question of not just ‘Are the capabilities developing and progressing?’ But, ‘Do they work together?’” he said in January.

Along with GatewayONE, a new system called “DeviceONE” was going to be tested in the April demonstration as a possible means to view secret-level data collected by airborne and space sensors and push it to handheld devices – dubbed “tabletONE” and “phoneONE” – in a secure, National Security Agency-approved fashion, Air Force acquisition chief Will Roper told reporters in March (Defense Daily, March 27).

The Air Force’s fiscal year 2021 budget justification book shows the service hopes to spend about $3.2 billion in research-and-development funds on the ABMS effort over the next five years (Defense Daily, Feb. 11).