The first Smart Node Pods for the U.S. Air Force have passed their flight tests.
Smart Node Pods are aircraft-mounted communications systems that allow real-time information to be exchanged among multiple and disparate military and commercial radios and datalinks. The devices come as single pods or pod or as multipod architecture. Northrop Grumman conducted five flights to certify performance of the pods, which are scheduled to be delivered through this summer.
"During the flights, the Smart Node Pod demonstrated the ability to transmit full-motion video, imagery, voice and digital messages between warfighters both in the air and on the ground via various waveforms and datalinks and its interoperability with the proprietary and open source forward tactical handheld devices," said a Northrop Grumman news release.
The pods can connect to the high-altitude Battlefield Airborne Communications Node (BACN) platforms, ground operational centers or other pods for beyond-line-of sight connectivity, said Jeannie Hilger, vice president of network communication systems at Northrop Grumman Information Systems. "In this manner, Smart Node Pod has the capability to augment BACN in its anchor role as the persistent high altitude gateway of the Joint Aerial Layer Network (JALN) by providing connectivity at the lower tier. Working in unison, Smart Node Pod and BACN have the potential to expand warfighter benefits by building out a multitiered JALN architecture and providing network connectivity across the battlespace."