Northrop Grumman is to field the first systems of the upgraded RC-12X Guardrail fleet, which will provide the US Army warfighter with signals intelligence (SIGINT) capability.

The RC-12X Guardrail is an airborne SIGINT sensor and ground processing system that provides the brigade combat teams with instant precision geo-location and identification of threats.

The final outfitting and testing of the initial four systems will be completed during the first quarter of 2011 before becoming fully operational by the second quarter of this year.

An additional ten RC-12X’s will be fielded during 2011-2012 with a total modernised Guardrail fleet of 14 systems.

The RC-12X Guardrail modernisation programme is intended to extend the life of the aircraft until 2025 with new payloads added to the system to better sense and exploit emerging, irregular and conventional warfare threats.