For the first time, an internal miniature electronic attack payload has been integrated and employed on a Group III, or small and tactical, unmanned aircraft system (UAS). The radar-jamming capabilities of the Pandora electronic attack payload were recently demonstrated on a Bat unmanned aircraft. That demonstration took place as part of the Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron One (MAWTS-1) Weapons and Tactics Instructor (WTI) event at the Naval Air Weapons Station in China Lake, California. The Bat completed multiple flights in collaboration with fixed-wing and other unmanned platforms.
The Pandora payload is a low-cost derivative of Northrop Grumman’s family of digital APR-39 electronic warfare management systems (EWMSs). The lightweight, multifunction payload provides electronic attack, support, and protection. It was integrated on the Bat in less than two months. The APR-39 radar warning receiver provides continuous, 360-deg. coverage to automatically detect and identify threats using ball-grid-array (BGA) technology. It is capable of detecting a wide range of radar emitters including pulsed, pulse Doppler, scanning emitters, agile pulse repetition intervals (PRIs), continuous wave, and low probability of intercept.
The APR-39 and subsequent Pandora systems are part of Northrop Grumman’s Suite of Integrated Sensors and Countermeasures (SISCM). The economical SISCM survivability suite integrates all situational awareness and self-protection subsystems into one coordinated system. It provides true multi-spectral awareness (RF and EO), fuses data from other on-board sensors and systems (including INS, GPS, and radar), and records threats and GPS data for post-flight analysis and mission planning.
SISCM also provides an Optional Advanced Situational Awareness Display (ASAD). This display combines threat warnings with a stored electronic order of battle (EOB), overlaying the two on a GPS-synchronized digital map. A digital elevation model then provides line-of-sight alerts for both radar and optically directed weapons. Derived intelligence information, including radar and flight instrument data, is displayed off-board via a data link. Threat avoidance also can be calculated by geolocation, terrain, and sensor input.
For its part, the Bat UAS is a tactical, runway-independent unmanned aircraft that can be launched from land or sea from a rail launcher. Its flexible design architecture allows for the quick installation of a variety of payloads while enabling rapid deployment. The blended body design, with either a 10- or 12-ft. wingspan, enables a larger payload volume (3.2 cubic feet) than other unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) of its size. It can be configured with different sized fuel tanks and sensor payloads for a variety of tactical missions including intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, target acquisition, and communications relay.