WASHINGTON — Along with the U.S. Army’s Tactical Exploitation of National Capabilities office, the Defense Innovation Unit has tapped Northrop Grumman to build two new prototype ground stations that will help the Army use satellite imagery for deep sensing.

The two prototypes will demonstrate some of the capabilities the Army wants to deliver with the Tactical Intelligence Targeting Access Node, or TITAN, a new scalable, portable ground station under development to help narrow the sensor-to-shooter timeline. With TITAN, the Army wants a system that can bring down data from space-based sensors, fuse it with sensor data from other domains, and apply artificial intelligence to create targeting data that can be delivered to the appropriate shooter.

“Our ground station prototypes will integrate existing software and hardware capabilities to showcase a unique ability to provide access to multi-domain actionable intelligence from commercial and military space systems,” Troy Brashear, Northrop Grumman’s vice president of integrated national systems, said in a statement.

The Army expects TITAN to reduce the sensor to shooter timeline and provide new deep-sensing that will maximize the effectiveness of long-range precision fires.

The Army was able to test out this concept in March during a live-fire exercise in Germany, where a TITAN surrogate ground station was used to deliver sensor data collected by satellites to shooters for deep targeting.

In a recent interview with C4ISRNET, Willie Nelson, the director of the Army’s Assured Positioning, Navigation and Timing Cross-Functional Team, declined to characterize how fast that data could be transferred from space to the shooter, but he was emphatic that progress is being made.

“We’re shaving off what used to be days, which used to be morning and afternoon types of data, from hours down to minutes,” Nelson said.

According to a March solicitation, the Pentagon expects delivery of the two prototypes in January 2022. They will then be used in a series of demonstrations exercised in 2022 and 2023.

Nathan Strout covers space, unmanned and intelligence systems for C4ISRNET.

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