The US Air Force (USAF) has awarded Northrop Grumman a contract to develop and demonstrate a Software Programmable Open Mission Systems (OMS) Compliant (SPOC) open-architecture networking terminal.

Under the development, which defines the USAF’s next-generation radio approach, the SPOC radio terminal to be delivered by Northrop Grumman will provide an air-to-ground and air-to-air communications capability to the former’s Life Cycle Management Center.

The capability will be delivered across Link-16 CMN-4, Common Data Link (CDL), Multifunction Advanced Data Link (MADL) and Multi User Objective System (MUOS) radio frequency waveforms.

The delivery of the radio terminal is expected to unlock new possibilities for the USAF’s Advanced Battle Management System.

Northrop Grumman communications, airborne sensors and networks division vice-president Roshan Roeder said: “Our solution for SPOC provides a mature hardware and software development kit that allows the Air Force to rapidly develop and prototype innovative communications solutions from any provider on an open architecture networking terminal that can be quickly taken into flight test and production.

“With the Air Force taking responsibility for developing the airborne communications network infrastructure for the Advanced Battle Management System, SPOC radio will allow the Air Force to rapidly develop, test, fly and iterate.”

The SPOC solution offers various benefits, including opening the F-35 communications, navigation and identification (CNI) system to third-party developers and the ownership of Link 16 development.

Other advantages include the sharing of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance information over a common data link, as well as a Mobile User Objective System beyond the line of sight capability.

Last December, Northrop supported the USAF’s flight test of a prototype ground-launched ballistic missile. The test was conducted from the 30th Space Wing’s Test Pad-01 at Vandenberg Air Force Base and the flight lasted more than 500km.