Northrop Grumman is a leader in the development of software defined radios (SDRs) for the next generation of integrated avionics systems that provide communications, navigation and identification (CNI) functions. These functions allow fighter pilots to reliably communicate with friendly forces, identify foes, navigate to and from targets, and detect and avoid threats.
Northrop Grumman's modular avionics design utilizes SDRs to combine multiple CNI functions into a single integrated "rack" system, greatly reducing size, weight and life cycle costs. These size and weight savings gained are crucial in today's equipment-crowded military aircraft, where increased demands mean trade-offs in aircraft performance and capability. This unique design approach uses integrated electronics, whereby multiple processing and radio functions are performed by a robust, wideband set of general purpose electronics. The system is furthermore capable of reconfiguring its components to counteract faults and failures — even those caused by battle damage — thereby enabling pilots to continue their mission and return safely.
Two-level maintenance is integrated into the design. This allows maintenance crews to easily fault isolate and swap cards on the flight line. Repair is also greatly simplified, and the built-in test and fault isolation features of modular avionics reduces the time and cost of maintaining the system.
The bottom line: lower costs with a greater availability of planes and helicopters that are ready to fly when needed.