Northrop Grumman Reveals Mini-CNI System with JADC2 Capabilities for Vertical Lift Platforms

Northrop Grumman Corporation recently unveiled its Mini-Communications, Navigation, and Identification (CNI) system. It holds open architecture, in-flight connectivity capabilities for vertical lift platforms and will enable data as a strategic advantage for Joint All Domain Command and Control (JADC2) operations.

Northrop Grumman recently demonstrated its Mini-Communications, Navigation, and Identification (CNI) system with open architecture and in-flight connectivity (IFC) capabilities for vertical lift platforms. The Mini CNI system is designed particularly to enable “data as a strategic advantage” for Joint All Domain Command and Control (JADC2) operations and to help the U.S. Army achieve Multi-Domain Operations (MDO), according to Northrop.

JADC2 is a far-reaching plan developed by the Department of Defense (DoD) to bring in joint technologies—ranging from artificial intelligence to new advanced computing tools—to build a cross-service digital architecture for future multi-domain operations. Northrop believes its communications solutions division has created a new software-defined radio system that could link vertical lift aircraft to the broader multi-domain digital architecture that DoD leadership has envisioned for the overall JADC2 concept

The Mini-CNI system is capable of “delivering current multi-level secure next-generation connectivity across domains. It is designed to [provide] resilient sensor-to-shooter links maintained through spectral awareness and frequency agility. This significantly improves data to decision timelines,” the company said in a Nov. 23 press release. “In addition, the autonomous fault detection and system reconfiguration reduces crew workload, enabling warfighters to focus on other critical JADC2 mission demands.”

The Mini-CNI system is also being capable of hosting several CNI capabilities. The plan for the following year is to add new capabilities such as new Modular Open Systems Approach (MOSA) functions as well as “integration of advanced low probability of intercept/low probability of denial communications.” The team at Northrop Grumman aims to enable support of interconnected mission demands to create a fully integrated JADC2 network.

Northrop Grumman’s Jenna Paukstis, Vice President, Communications Solutions, stated in an emailed Q&A with Avionics International that the Mini-CNI system “is designed to be platform agnostic. It is intended to support vertical lift platforms as well as fixed-wing platforms. In addition, the system has the ability to be integrated into a wide range of air, ground, and maritime platforms.”

“Northrop Grumman’s Mini-CNI offering is designed to deliver multiple networked advantages for today’s warfighters, enabling data as a strategic advantage in JADC2 operations.”

The recently completed system demonstration involved an in-the-air test on a vertical lift platform; the Mini-CNI system communicated successfully and continuously throughout the entire flight test. Paukstis explained in further detail how the system works: “Our Mini-CNI is a software-defined, multi-band, multi-waveform, multi-function radio system that simultaneously supports a variety of communications and advanced networking operations. Platform integration will use standard aircraft interfaces.”

Looking forward, Paukstis anticipates that the system will be fully certified by the U.S. government within two years.

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