Woodland Hills CA: Northrop Grumman has delivered to the U.S. Air Force the first of 31 production LN-120G stellar-inertial navigation systems for the RC-135 aircraft. Aided by the LN-120G, the Air Force can accurately pinpoint hostile targets detected by the RC-135 and transmit the information to the Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (Joint STARS) aircraft and, ultimately, to fighter aircraft.
“The LN-120G provides the Air Force with the precise stellar-inertial navigation system needed by the RC-135 aircraft to support the intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance community in their role of protecting our citizens domestically and abroad,” said Mark Casady, vice president of Navigation and Positioning Systems for Northrop Grumman.
The LN-120G is a GPS-augmented stellar-inertial navigation system that tracks stars during the day and at night. Once the LN-120G locates a star, it refines the positioning information provided by the inertial navigation system of the aircraft. Repeating this process enables it to provide heading information accurate to 20 arc seconds — the highest accuracy available in the world.
“The LN-120G achieves positional accuracy of one-half a nautical mile for up to 18 hours when GPS updating is unavailable or jammed,” said Mike Borck, Northrop Grumman's Stellar-Inertial Navigation program manager. “The LN-120G is in production and ready to address the needs of aircraft like the B-52, B-2, Global Hawk or the new EP-8, which could benefit from its extremely precise navigation for intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and other applications.”
The Northrop Grumman LN-20, a mechanical gyro predecessor of the LN-120G, has served on RC-135 aircraft for over three decades. Northrop Grumman was selected to upgrade the present LN-20 units with 31 new LN-120G units in 2005. The first flight of the LN-120G on the RC-135 aircraft was completed in August 2006, with the first production unit delivered on schedule and under cost to the Air Force in May 2007.
The RC-135 reconnaissance aircraft provides near-real time on-scene intelligence collection, analysis and dissemination capabilities. During its tenure, the RC-135 has also participated in every sizeable conflict involving U.S. assets.