Northrop Grumman-built SmartNode Pod has successfully demonstrated its ability to enhance performance of the US Army's High Antenna for Radio Communications (HARC) system during a series of ground and flight tests at Mojave Desert in California, US.
In July, the SmartNode Pod operating from the company's Firebird unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) enabled HARC to network with other ground radio systems. This established a unified network functioning across varied networks, including currently fielded legacy systems and radios, which are based on new waveforms.
Northrop Grumman Information Systems network communications systems vice president Claude Hashem said the commanders required a locally controlled airborne network, enabling a battlefield airborne communications node (BACN), such as information sharing at the tactical edge of battlefield.
"The SmartNode Pod provides a powerful 'platform-agnostic' capability without the significant cost of platform integration," Hashem added.
Derived from BACN technology, the SmartNode Pod is an airborne communication system designed to provide critical range extension and gateway capabilities in a form factor, which can be controlled even by the lowest ranking commanders.
The pod is primarily intended for use on a range of aircraft that are required to support the US Department of Defense's (DoD) proposed Joint Aerial Layer Network (JALN) high-capacity communications management system.
Developed by the Army Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center (CERDEC), the HARC is an advanced system featuring six antennas on an aerostat capable of networking to ground radios using a fibre-optical link.
The system provides the commanders with network connectivity even in adverse conditions and areas where the line-of-sight communications are obstructed by mountainous terrain or urban canyons.