SAN JOSE, Calif., April 22, 2008 (PRIME NEWSWIRE) -- Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC) has been awarded a contract by the U.S. Air Force Aeronautical Systems Center for the development and flight-testing of a signals intelligence sensor payload for the U.S. Air Force MQ-1 Predator Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) and for the preliminary design of an expanded sensor package for the MQ-9 Reaper UAS.

Under this 18-month, cost-plus-incentive fee contract valued at $54.9 million, Northrop Grumman will develop and flight-test the Airborne Signals Intelligence Payload 1C (ASIP-1C) sensor on the MQ-1. The sensor is scheduled to complete factory tests in December, complete flight tests in May 2009, and achieve operational fielding in 2010. Northrop Grumman will develop a preliminary design for an expanded ASIP-2C version of the sensor to provide a signals intelligence capability for the MQ-9 as part of the contract.

"With this award, we will deliver a new capability that leverages the Air Force's prior investment on the basic ASIP program -- not just in development savings through product reuse but also savings through common production, logistics support, sustainability and sensor upgrades," said Imad Bitar, vice president of Northrop Grumman Mission Systems sector's Electromagnetic Systems Laboratory business unit. "ASIP is also the foundation for the U. S. Army's Guardrail modernization signals intelligence upgrade. We see significant savings and risk reduction when common sensor capabilities are fielded on different operational platforms."

ASIP-1C will be a scaled, modular derivative of the ASIP sensor developed for the U-2 and Global Hawk platforms and will be interoperable with other intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets. The ASIP-1C sensor will reuse the approved Air Force ground station and security interfaces developed for the basic ASIP program. ASIP-1C will deliver enhanced communications intelligence collection and exploitation capabilities in support of Predator's tactical warfighting role, sometimes described as a hunter/killer/scout mission. The system will allow Predator to rapidly employ this critical information in support of the Global War on Terrorism.

The ASIP-1C and -2C sensors will be part of a System-of-Systems development program involving multiple Air Force and industry organizations. The ASIP industry team includes Northrop Grumman as prime contractor for sensor development; General Atomics, San Diego, for the MQ-1 and MQ-9 platforms; and Raytheon Company, Waltham, Mass., for the ground station interface.

Northrop Grumman Corporation is a $32 billion global defense and technology company whose 120,000 employees provide innovative systems, products, and solutions in information and services, electronics, aerospace and shipbuilding to government and commercial customers worldwide.

  CONTACT:  George I. Seffers
          Northrop Grumman Mission Systems
          (703) 345-8548