Center for Strategic Decision Research


A Case Study: Airborne Ground Surveillance

Mr. Ralph Crosby, Jr.
President, Integrated Systems Sector, Northrop-Grumman


I am approaching the transatlantic cooperation issue from a case-study perspective: "What has been the experience under the current set of circumstances?" The first point is that you need a success. A success will go a long way toward demonstrating that there are ways to make transatlantic cooperation succeed. Tom Enders at EADS and I have been joined at the hip to figure out how to cooperate in this transatlantic marketplace. We started out with the belief that, as desirable as it is, the transatlantic integration of companies is not mature enough to enable such cooperation.

We need to explore different opportunities to see if we can put building blocks into place to cooperate on various programs, and then decide whether or not we can take advantage of those circumstances. The foundation of the building blocks is Alliance Ground Surveillance (AGS), and recognizing that AGS is a high priority. Minister Trøjborg, General Hvidt, Bill Schneider, Klaus Naumann, and several others have also indicated that AGS must be put into place for transatlantic cooperation to succeed.

As part of this "case study," I am going to look at a series of topics: the requirement for success; what I would call the "enablers" of success for this program; the impediments that exist to successful implementation of the program; the approach that our industrial partnership has taken to deal with the impediments; and where we are and where we need to go.


The Desert Storm conflict showed us that you can have a ground picture as complete and as comprehensive as the air picture provided by AWACS, and such a picture is now a NATO requirement. Wide-area ground surveillance for a corps area has been demonstrated. This capability lets us know on a continuing basis what each individual moving vehicle is, where it goes, and where it has been.

The ability to project where an individual target is going adds greatly to an on-scene commander's ability to engage in the particular operational objectives. The technology provides a moving-target indicator as well as synthetic aperture radar pictures. This is important, and not just for use in major conflicts such as Desert Storm.

In Bosnia, under General Joulwan's direction, and again in Kosovo, we saw that knowing where targets are and where they are going is intelligence information that is critical to the effective management of a situation. It also can prevent tragedies, such as an F-16 targeting a tractor that is part of a column of refugees. By maintaining continuous tracking, we will be able to know what each individual target is. Either through the sensor's ability to classify and identify a particular type of target-which is the future of this technology-or by making a positive ID on it and tracking it wherever it is, day after day, you can know what that target actually is or what that vehicle may do.


What are the things that favor making this program a reality? If we say the objective is to figure out how to successfully get under contract, what are the positives that we see?

  • High Military Value. First of all, as has been clearly stated, we see a high military value. There is no doubt that the program's capabilities as well as the recognition of its capabilities are positives. Its high priority in the Defense Capabilities Initiative also validates its value. Being a successful cooperative program is another positive. However, given our stage in the transatlantic dialogue and the European initiatives associated with ESDP/ESDI, we need a successful demonstration of major transatlantic cooperation.
  • Avoiding Redundancy. Clearly, with the limitations on investment resources, redundant investments and research and development programs that eat resources that could be pooled and applied to a single program are inefficiencies we cannot afford at this point.
  • Taking Advantage of U.S. Investment. The United States has spent $4 billion developing and deploying an airborne ground surveillance capability. My company currently is under contract for $700 million to develop the next-generation sensor and system to support the requirement. Harvesting that investment to the benefit of the Alliance seems to be a very positive potential factor. Another important factor is that, if it is a joint program with the U.S., then the U.S. will pay a significant share, normally, about 40%. If it is not a cooperative program, that 40% contribution will not be made.
  • Interoperability. This goes without saying.
  • Superior Capability. Given the technology available today, the $700 million investment we at Northrop-Grumman and Raytheon are making to develop this radar technology gives us an opportunity to make the system capacity great enough to do what is militarily critical. Let me give you an example of the capacity of this system. Those of you who have enjoyed being part of rush hour in Washington, D.C. will appreciate this. If this system were stationed over the Chesapeake Bay, it could continuously track every individual vehicle during rush hour in Washington, D.C. Compare that to the very limited capability of the U.S. Joint STARS and other systems under development. With the new system we receive the benefits of identification, discrimination, and additional radar modes.
  • Technology Transfer. This is a positive, not a negative. Technology transfer, the harvesting of this $4 billion plus investment, is, in fact, an opportunity for European industry. This is because the fastest path to the next generation is co-development of the system, rather than starting without the technology base the $4 billion yielded.
  • A Positive Impetus. For ESDP today, "separable but not separate" means that without a NATO Alliance Ground Surveillance capability, Europe goes it alone without the U.S. and without MTI. A European capability in this domain will enable the separable-but-not-separate concept.
  • Applicability Across the Conflict Spectrum. This is yet another attractive element.


Why hasn't this program been bought yet? What has kept us from going forward? Let me go over the reasons.

  • A Cooperative Program. This program is multilateral and multi-industrial, which means that it is complex and takes time. Because it is multinational, there is a continuing demand for a diverse array of information and marketing-you are not just trying to sell to one government customer but to numerous customers. Another negative is the fact that this is an American technology foundation, coupled with the problems of technology transfer and the view that America has been patronizing.
  • Competing Programs. Since there are two competitors to the program-ASTOR and Joint STARS-and therefore three options exist, it becomes difficult to achieve consensus.
  • A Failed Previous Effort. Early in our effort to persuade Europe that Joint STARS was the answer, we used very bad judgment and residual rancor associated with that effort still exists.
  • The Resource Shortfall and the Change of Administrations. Obviously, both of these add to the complexity of our task.


What do Tom Enders and I see as our role in dealing with these impediments? Our view is to accept the challenges and to recognize that we, as joint industrial partners, can and must address each one of these issues using the resources we can bring to bear. We are emphasizing the positives and addressing the impediments. It is complex, and it will take time. But we believe that developing industrial cooperation can lead to international cooperation.

We also believe that jointly addressing the question of technology transfer can yield positive results. I have a matrix of 108 different boxes that represent the areas in which technology transfer is possible from the U.S. to the European partners in this program. Of those 108 boxes, 104 have a "Y" in them; Y means "Yes, transferable to potential partners." There are 4 boxes that show "To be reviewed." This is the negative U.S. technology-transfer policy that is standing in the way of cooperation-only 4 areas to be reviewed out of 108. Now, that is the case because the government and industry have worked collectively on this issue on the other side of the ocean. I suggest that harvesting 96% of a $4 billion investment is not a bad proposition.

Competing programs are the biggest problem of all. Very frankly, Tom Enders and I think about that daily, because EADS is, in fact, a major contractor on SOSTAR, the Stand-off Surveillance and Target Acquisition Radar. The answer, we believe, is to merge the programs once SOSTAR is under contract, i.e., make everyone a winner, and take advantage of the technological investment that has been made. The issue of work share, we think, falls out in a pretty unambiguous way. Any country's industries ought to be able to obtain the amount of work equivalent to the contribution the country makes to the program.


We believe we are making progress, and the path ahead looks straightforward. It is to develop consensus that we need to merge the programs to achieve an enabled Alliance and an enabled European capability that will meet the needs of the Alliance and the security of this continent. My view is that the path to success exists, and that partnering will help us succeed. But the path is long, and the time in which to succeed is short. If we are to cooperate on this venture, we must come to a conclusion by the end of 2001. Otherwise, technology development will eliminate the opportunity for us to engage in this mutually beneficial program as collaborative partners.


Top of page | Home | ©2003 Center for Strategic Decision Research