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USAF Awards BAE Platform-Agnostic Airborne Sensor Contract

The US Air Force (USAF) has contracted the BAE Systems-Sierra Nevada Corporation team for a futuristic airborne signals intelligence (SIGINT) sensor prototype.

The sensor will collect and analyze electronic signals to gain insight “into adversaries’ actions,” the British defense manufacturer stated. The company added that “it will exploit the radio frequency (RF) spectrum, critical to battlefield superiority, to detect, identify, locate, and track RF emissions.”

GHOST Program

The contract is part of the USAF’s Global High-altitude Open-system Sensor Technology (GHOST) program, which looks for an “agile and open architecture solution platform for providing airborne signals intelligence in the future.” The USAF said the sensor would initially be fitted inside an aircraft-attached pod.

Signals Intelligence Branch Chief Jeremy Shock added that “we are designing it to be platform agnostic, or agile, so it is easily transferable from one airborne platform to another based on however much size, weight, and power is available.”

Common Interface

The program also demands the sensor seamlessly communicate with the airborne platform and the ground station. “We want common interfaces down to the ground to send common messages down so that they can easily be shared throughout the Intel community,” Shock added.  

GHOST is a rapid prototyping 12-month program with three vendors to design prototypes. Last week, the USAF awarded Northrop Grumman a SIGINT prototype contract.

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