SAN DIEGO, Nov. 16, 2004 (PRIMEZONE) -- The first production RQ-4A Global Hawk unmanned aerial reconnaissance vehicle has arrived at its new home at Beale Air Force Base, Calif.

Designated AF-3, the UAV arrived on Oct. 28 following a short ferry flight from the Birk Flight Test Center at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. Northrop Grumman (NYSE:NOC) produces Global Hawk for the U.S. Air Force.

"This is the first Global Hawk to arrive on base, but it's not new to us," said Col. Larry Wells, commander of the 9th Reconnaissance Wing at Beale Air Force Base. "For quite some time, our pilots and sensor operators have been operating the system in theatre from half a world away. During its current deployment, just one RQ-4A air vehicle has flown more than 1,000 combat hours, providing tremendous support to our fighting men and women on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan."

"AF-3's arrival at Beale symbolizes Global Hawk's transition from a development program to an operational system," said Carl O. Johnson, Northrop Grumman's Global Hawk vice president and integrated product team leader. "Its performance in theatre has surpassed all expectations. Northrop Grumman is extremely proud to provide our customer and our country with this remarkable reconnaissance system."

AF-3's arrival at Beale recently followed the first flight of N-1, the first Global Hawk for the U.S. Navy. N-1 is currently in test at Edwards Air Force Base. It will ferry to Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md., next summer to prepare for the Navy's Global Hawk maritime demonstration scheduled to begin in mid-2005.

To date, the Global Hawk system has logged more than 5,000 flight hours in test flights over the western U.S; on deployments to Florida, Australia, and Germany; and while conducting combat missions supporting the war on terrorism. More than 2,000 of those hours are attributed to the system's operational service.

The company recently began production of an enhanced Global Hawk air vehicle, designated the RQ-4B, at its Antelope Valley Manufacturing Center in Palmdale, Calif. Compared to the RQ-4A, the RQ-4B features a larger wingspan (130.9 feet), a longer fuselage (47.6 feet) and a generator that can deliver 150 percent more power, enabling it to accommodate a 50 percent increase in total payload weight. Northrop Grumman plans to deliver the first three RQ-4B air vehicles in 2006 as part of the Lot 3 low rate initial production contract.

Northrop Grumman Integrated Systems is a premier aerospace and defense systems integration organization. Headquartered in El Segundo, Calif., it designs, develops, produces and supports network-enabled integrated systems and subsystems optimized for use in networks. For its government and civil customers worldwide, Integrated Systems delivers best-value solutions, products and services that support military and homeland defense missions in the areas of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; space access; battle management command and control; and integrated strike warfare.

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