Northrop to Develop Navigation System for E/F-18 Fighters

By on Monday, September 24th, 2012

Northrop Grumman Corporation (NOC) has been awarded a competitive prototyping contract by The Boeing Company to develop an embedded global positioning/inertial navigation system (EGI) for the U.S. Navy’s F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler aircraft.

Under the contract, Northrop Grumman will produce a prototype inertial navigation system demonstrating fiber-optic gyro performance suitability for F/A-18 E/F and EA-18G Joint Precision Approach and Landing System (JPALS) needs. JPALS is a next-generation aircraft landing system that will utilize Global Positioning System (GPS) data and replace radar-based systems.

As one of two contractors selected, Northrop Grumman will focus on integration risk reduction, including meeting specific system requirements and maximizing performance toward a JPALS-compatible navigation subsystem. Boeing is expected to down-select to a single supplier for system production. The chosen company will conduct a five-year Engineering and Manufacturing Development program and provide the inertial navigation system for all Super Hornet and Growler aircraft, with an estimated 500 EGIs to be produced for the program.

“Our proprietary fiber-optic gyro technology can be scaled for varying needs and applications, including the demands of a cutting-edge inertial navigation system for the Super Hornet and Growler aircraft,” said Gorik Hossepian, vice president of navigation and positioning systems for Northrop Grumman.

The all-weather F/A-18E/F Super Hornet is the U.S. Navy’s premier fighter/attack aircraft that is capable of performing numerous missions, including air superiority, day/night strike with precision-guided weapons, fighter escort, close air support, suppression of enemy air defenses, maritime strike, reconnaissance, forward air control and tanker missions.

The EA-18G Growler, currently being delivered to the Navy, will be the cornerstone of the naval Airborne Electronic Attack (AEA) mission. Derived from the F/A-18F aircraft, the EA-18G incorporates advanced AEA avionics, bringing transformational capability for suppression of enemy air defenses and nontraditional electronic attack operations.

JPALS is an all-weather, anti-jam approach and landing system based on local area differential GPS. Developed by the Navy, JPALS works with GPS to provide accurate, reliable landing guidance for fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft and supports fixed-base, tactical and shipboard applications. Northrop Grumman provides the inertial measurement unit for the shipboard-relative GPS set in the JPALS program.

Northrop Grumman has extensive experience in precision navigation solutions, including the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory’s Automated Aerial Refueling (AAR) program that is exploring autonomous refueling methods for unmanned aircraft. Northrop Grumman will leverage state-of-the-art Relative Navigation software algorithms developed for the AAR program when creating a JPALS-compliant system, ensuring that the Navy has a viable landing solution for its future advanced fighter aircraft.

Northrop Grumman is a leading global security company providing innovative systems, products and solutions in aerospace, electronics, information systems, and technical services to government and commercial customers worldwide.

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