The Airborne Early Warning & Control (AEW&C) platform took another step forward in the drive toward validating an open mission systems (OMS) approach on this midsize jet-powered aircraft.
In collaboration with Northrop Grumman, Boeing recently conducted two flight tests on a test bed aircraft, once again marrying the OMS-compliant battle management command and control (BMC2) system to Northrop Grumman’s advanced, wide-band active electronically scanned array (AESA). This successful airborne test of OMS architecture is a key step in validating the approach and moving the product to fielding.
“From an engineering standpoint, executing this OMS test in a relevant environment, represents a major step up in demonstrated readiness,” said Rick Greenwell, Boeing chief engineer, Aircraft Modernization and Modification. “As a company, we are committed to OMS and have demonstrated OMS on defense products such as the T-7A Red Hawk and F-15EX. AEW&C now joins that prestigious Boeing product list. It is a major accomplishment to take the OMS architecture from lab and ground testing to the air, and connecting it to an operating sensor in an environment similar to flying an operational mission. Open architecture is a very efficient way of doing software engineering and bringing capabilities across platforms.”
Both flight tests saw the AEW&C mission computing, processing and Human-Machine Interface (HMI) hardware mounted on the test aircraft and connected to the Northrop Grumman sensor. Via the HMI a Boeing operator commanded the sensor to conduct specific activities and then received the sensor data for processing and display.
Last month, Boeing and Northrop Grumman conducted a ground test scenario in which the AESA was commanded by Boeing’s open mission computing to focus on specific areas of interest for potential “threats.”
“Our AEW&C aircraft is already a combat-proven, mature platform,” said Nancy Anderson, Boeing vice president, Aircraft Modernization and Modification. “By adding an OMS-compliant BMC2 system, it tremendously increases the platform’s growth opportunities. Customers will have more flexibility to add or upgrade capabilities, select vendors and determine an implementation schedule. Customers have laid out OMS requirements for future programs and this accomplishment is a great example of Boeing listening and responding.”
Boeing’s AEW&C is the only off-the-shelf, combat-proven air battle management solution providing command and control and communication capabilities in a congested and contested battle space. The AEW&C provides unparalleled abilities to scan the battle-space, communicate with surface, ground and air assets and enable integration across joint platforms. Customers currently operating the AEW&C include Australia, South Korea and Turkey, and the United Kingdom is under contract.