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Northrop Grumman flight tests digital wideband AESA sensor

Northrop Grumman Corporation has successfully flight demonstrated its new Terracotta sensor – a fully-digital open mission systems (OMS)-compliant wideband active electronically scanned array (AESA).

Terracotta’s nearly 200 wideband digital channels can be molded cooperatively or segmented for unique purposes

The flight test was a follow-on to successful ground and flight demonstrations of Terracotta conducted last fall. This most recent flight verified Terracotta’s ability to simultaneously perform active and passive radio frequency capabilities. Terracotta’s nearly 200 wideband digital channels can be molded cooperatively or segmented for unique purposes, including electronic warfare, airborne early warning radar, active and passive sensing, and communications.


“As a fully-digital multifunction sensor with a wide operating bandwidth, Terracotta can seamlessly provide adaptive spectrum maneuverability,” said Paul Kalafos, vice president, surveillance and electromagnetic maneuver warfare. “The sensor’s architecture is easily scaled and configured for many applications and systems across all domains. It represents a key enabling technology for joint all domain operations.”


Unlike traditional sensors, multifunction apertures consolidate multiple capabilities into a single sensor, decreasing both the number of apertures needed and the size, weight, and power requirements for the advanced capabilities. Sophisticated multifunction apertures like Terracotta can deploy several functions simultaneously.


OMS compliance offers an interface solution based on open architecture design allowing customers to rapidly add new or improved capabilities, regardless of supplier, at a reduced cost. Northrop Grumman plans to integrate a combination of OMS/Open Communication Systems sensors and software-defined radios across multiple platforms, networks and nodes to address driving mission needs and ensure multi-domain interoperability.

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