ANTX Demonstrates Connectivity Among Range of Unmanned Systems
By RICHARD R. BURGESS, Managing Editor
ARLINGTON, Va. — Northrop Grumman, participating in the Advanced Naval Technology Exercise (ANTX) 2018, successfully demonstrated end-to-end multidomain connectivity among unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs), unmanned surface vehicles (USVs) and unmanned aerial vehicles, company officials said.
The ANTX demonstration at the Naval Undersea Warfare Center in Newport, Rhode Island, focused on “a mine countermeasures mission, supplemented with unmanned systems” said Alan Lytle, Northrop Grumman’s vice president for Undersea Systems.
“We had two major focuses this year the first being to integrate our Advanced Mission Management Control System (AMMCS) over a range of vehicles [UUV, USV and UAV] to increase the efficiency of manned/unmanned teaming,” said Dan Redman, Northrop Grumman’s ANTX program manager. “Our second goal was to add some capability to our Fire Scout [UAV] surrogate to demonstrate that a small change can expand the role of a platform.”
Under the concept of operations, the unmanned vehicles are “deployed from a littoral combat ship in a potentially contested environment. The Wave Gliders get out there, the helicopter is on station, and the IVER [UUV] swam out and did its initial run over the target.
Redman said that in the 2018 ANTX the company added sonobuoy launch tubes to the Fire Scout surrogate, a Bell 407 helicopter upon which the MQ-8C Fire Scout is based, fully integrated with the other unmanned vehicles in the demonstration.
“We did the first drop of a sonobuoy from our Fire Scout surrogate,” he said, noting that four A-size sonobuoy launch tubes were carried on each side of the helicopter.
The AMMCS, using a proprietary software, was installed on each of the vehicles to operate the various UUVs and USVs and their sensors, “creating a net to accomplish the mine warfare mission,” Redman said.
Lytle said the demonstration showed the ability to use a man-portable UUV with a Micro-SAS [synthetic aperture sonar] to achieve automatic target recognition.
“Once the [UUV] had recognized mine-like objects to a high-enough confidence factor, it communicated covertly with the tactical operations center and fed that information back to that networked grid, [creating] full end-to-end communications,” he said.
The UUV, an OceanServer IVER3 580 equipped with the Micro-SAS, communicated using a data bubble to a tactical operations center, Lytle said, likening it to encapsulated satellite communications.