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Case Study

Northrop Grumman Applies MBSE to the Development of Phased Array Antennas

The United States Department of Defense (DoD) distributed a “Digital Engineering Strategy” report in 2018, which stated: “To help ensure continued U.S. technological superiority, the Department is transforming its engineering practices to digital engineering, incorporating technological innovations into an integrated, digital, model-based approach.

To meet this demand, Northrop Grumman has begun implementing an integrated, model-based approach to develop phased array antenna sensor systems. Phased array antenna sensors are essential to all types of wireless communication, radar, and electronic warfare. Due to the wide variety of uses, multifunctionality, and applications of these devices, they have become more complex to design and test.


Northrop needed to reevaluate and redevelop the way requirements were communicated to analysis to reduce the document-intensive engineering process.

The goal was to:

  • Automate and integrate the individual engineering disciplines into one workflow.
  • Use an integrated workflow to run a multitude of trade studies to locate the optimal design.
  • Connect systems requirements to automated workflows to calculate performance, check requirements, and perform design trade-offs studies.

Engineering Solution

Northrop Grumman needed a solution to improve their engineering workflows that match content physics-based analysis to the systems requirements. The first step was connecting the analysis models from different disciplines to create modular building blocks.
Next, they created a streamlined connection from the systems architecture models (SAM) to engineering analysis. ModelCenter® automated the workflows and connected these workflows to the SysML (SAM) models.The fully integrated system can calculate performance, check requirements, and perform design trade-offs with ModelCenter. Northrop can run thousands of use cases to develop Pareto Front of cost verse performance using ModelCenter visualization.


Northrop Grumman’s development of a multidisciplinary phased array antenna model with many interdependencies has improved the antennas’ quality, reduced the time for design exploration, and provided adherence to the systems architecture model. Northrop can perform simulation analysis of a single solution in minutes compared to hours previously.

They have eliminated transcription errors through automated connections between models, which has reduced time to run simulations and increased the quality of the final product.

The results are:

  • Improved technical communication
  • Improved design quality
  • Increased productivity
  • Reduced design and execution risk


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