Northrop Grumman said it demonstrated interoperability between manned and unmanned platforms during a recent virtual joint military demonstration. During the month-long exercise, called Empire Challenge 09 and executed by U.S. Joint Forces Command, virtual physics-based and operational flight program simulations of Northrop Grumman platforms, including the E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (Joint STARS), E-2 Hawkeye Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C), the RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned aircraft reconnaissance system, MQ-8B Fire Scout vertical takeoff and landing unmanned system, and the MQ-5B Hunter medium altitude unmanned aerial system, achieved interoperability between manned and unmanned aircraft via an airborne Web services architecture, the company said. "The ability to collect and share real-time ISR at the theatre and the tactical level quickly and accurately is crucial to ensuring battle commanders have the enhanced situational awareness required for successful mission completion," said Tom Vice, vice president of Battle Management and Engagement Systems division for Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems sector. "During Empire Challenge, we successfully demonstrated how manned command and control aircraft can direct and manage unmanned aircraft to enhance image collection and target identification. We will take what we've learned through this collaborative exercise to continue to mature our ISR capabilities to ensure our warfighters have the mission critical information they need when they need it."