PWT processor

Northrop Grumman has successfully completed demonstration of its new space-design protected tactical waveform (PTW) processor at the MIT / Lincoln Labs test facility in Massachusetts, US.

The trial was conducted as part of the US Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center’s Milsatcom Design for an Affordability Risk Reduction effort with MIT/Lincoln Labs. It witnessed successful communication by the processor using the air force-developed protected tactical waveform.

The waveform builds upon the proven protection features of the Advanced Extremely High Frequency programme’s extended data rate waveform, called XDR.

When implemented in a protected architecture, the PTW processor enhances user data rates up to a factor of 20, and improves spectral efficiency up to a factor of 4, while providing bandwidth-on-demand to significantly improve soldier communications in contested tactical environments.

"The waveform builds upon the proven protection features of the Advanced Extremely High Frequency programme’s extended data rate waveform, called XDR."

Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems communication systems vice-president Tim Frei said: "While PTW provides substantial new capabilities for the warfighter, a waveform alone does not provide protection.

"The real value of PTW is when it is integrated into an architecture with comprehensive protection, including space-based processing, non-commercial frequency bands, crosslinks and other key protection features in the antenna and radio frequency processing chains.

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"Northrop Grumman has maximised the value of this contract to the government by treating it not simply as a concept demonstration, but rather as true risk reduction and prototype development consistent with our standard development process for flight units."

The PTW platform used for the demonstration was a fully integrated subsystem with multi-channel demodulators, Ethernet-based packet switching, high-data-rate modulators, and the associated control software.

According to the company, the demonstration platform consisted of flight-representative technology readiness level six hardware, as well as firmware and software that can be incorporated into a near-term flight programme and provide assured communication and performance to the soldier.

Following completion of the full suite of government-defined modem tests, the company also performed additional testing including the connection of multiple terminal emulators in an end-to-end configuration with complete forward and return processing and Ethernet switching.

In addition, the Northrop team demonstrated how the bandwidth-on-demand software responds to a multi-user loading environment to efficiently use the available spectrum.

Image: Northrop’s new space-design PWT processor significantly enhances soldier communications in contested tactical environments. Photo: courtesy of Northrop Grumman Corp.