The system is called the SmartNode Pod and is based on the Battlefield Airborne Communications Node Technology, which enables image, video, voice and digital messaging.
"By using proven technology developed for the BACN program, the lightweight SmartNode Pod is ready to mount on many different military aircraft and provides a much-needed capability controlled by the deployed commander," said Claude Hashem, vice president of Network Communications Systems for Northrop Grumman Information Systems.
"The pod can connect to the high-altitude BACN platforms, ground operational centers or other pods for beyond-line-of-sight connectivity and access to high-level ISR and command and control information."
Northrop demonstrated the system using its Firebird aircraft, a pilot-optional vehicle that carries multiple payloads for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions.
Flight testing verified the direct transmission of encrypted data and voice information to mobile ground units and command centers.
The SmartNode Pod, which can be used on a variety of aircraft, would support the planned Joint Aerial Layer Network, a high-capacity communications network management system planned by the U.S. Defense Department.