Northrop Grumman Smart Node Pod demonstrates C4ISR interoperability

FALLS CHURCH, Va. Northrop Grumman recently demonstrated how its Smart Node Pod -- a small, self-contained, aircraft-mounted system -- can aid in battlefield communications and information-sharing across a wide variety of networks and mission threads. The Smart Node Pod's capabilities were presented during Bold Quest, a coalition demonstration and assessment event sponsored twice yearly by the Joint Staff at the Department of Defense (DoD); Bold Quest 16.2 was conducted in the Savannah, Georgia, area from mid-October through early November.

During the Bold Quest exercise, the multipod design version of Smart Node Pod operated as a midtier airborne communications gateway on an O-2 Skymaster, which served as a surrogate for an MQ-1C Gray Eagle unmanned aircraft. During the demonstration, the Smart Node Pod enabled emerging digitally aided close-air-support technologies, an air-to-air high-capacity backbone enabled by the Common , a Tactical Data Link (TDL) gateway, Link 16 network relay, and beyond-line-of-sight TDL communications. It also demonstrated an emerging translation capability between Variable Message Format and Link 16 messages.

All the gateway functions were performed on the airborne node using the existing Smart Node Pod design, which enabled the users to avoid sending the data down to the ground for retransmission and required no hardware modifications to the Smart Node Pod or the aircraft.

The Smart Node Pod is typically mounted on an MQ-1C Gray Eagle unmanned aircraft. Photo courtesy General Atomics.

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