The radar system for the Bat UAV provides 360-deg. coverage using ball-grid-array (BGA) technology. (Photo courtesy of Northrop Grumman.)

Multifunction Electronic Payload Is Integrated on Group III UAV

Dec. 4, 2013
The Pandora electronic attack payload, which was recently integrated on the Bat unmanned aircraft, was derived from the APR-39 system. It provides continuous 360-deg. coverage using BGA technology.

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.

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