U.S. AIR FORCE PLANT 42 PALMDALE, Calif.—Northrop Grumman [NOC] said it has demonstrated a low-probability of intercept, anti-jam advanced data link for highly contested environments in information exchanged between a Scaled Composites’ Proteus high altitude long endurance (HALE) drone and a Firebird optionally manned aircraft.

In flight over the Mojave Desert on July 14, the Proteus located a ground target and provided an optical data link with continuous photos to a Firebird flying below the Proteus. Northrop Grumman then used 5G infrastructure set up in the Washington, D.C., area to relay the data to the cloud.

“This experiment is a critical milestone in the evolution of a distributed multi-domain battle management command and control architecture that maintains decision superiority for the U.S. military and allies,” Northrop Grumman said on Sept. 8.

Tom Pieronek, Northrop Grumman’s chief technology officer and vice president for research and technology, said in a Sept. 8 statement that the company’s technologies, “built on advanced low size, weight and power electronics, enable integrated and secure communications across domains supporting the Department of Defense’s JADC2 [Joint All Domain Command and Control] strategy.”

On Sept. 8, Northrop Grumman briefed reporters in a hangar at the company’s Site 7 here. Displayed in the hangar were a Firebird, an X-47B, and a Triton drone and a model of a Model 401 drone.

Northrop Grumman said that the July 14 flight demonstration of the advanced data link “is the first integration of a new mission-specific military transceiver, multi-level security data switches, and open architecture wide-area networking, utilizing commercial technology into the observe, orient, decide and act loop – the decision-making chain for threat engagements.”

“This is a key step toward harnessing the power of a network into critical domains for national security missions,” the company said.