SAN DIEGO, Nov. 7, 2005 (PRIMEZONE) -- The U.S. Air Force has awarded Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC) a contract to begin production of the next five RQ-4B Global Hawk aerial reconnaissance systems.

The new $60 million contract will allow the company to start purchasing long-lead parts for the unmanned air vehicles, the enhanced integrated sensor suites for four of the air vehicles, one mission-control element, and one launch-and-recovery element. Production of the hardware for these five new RQ-4B air vehicles is expected to begin late this year, with assembly starting next year.

"This contract demonstrates the commitment and continued confidence that the Air Force has in Global Hawk's capabilities and operational performance, and the need for this unique intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance system," said George Guerra, Northrop Grumman's Air Force Global Hawk program manager. "These vehicles will be the first operational Global Hawks with full multi-intelligence capabilities, including signals intelligence."

Northrop Grumman is currently producing five RQ-4B Global Hawks at its manufacturing facility in Palmdale, Calif., as part of several previous limited-production contracts.

The new RQ-4B Global Hawk is designed to carry 3,000 pounds of payload, 50 percent more than the original RQ-4A configuration. This increased capability will allow the Air Force to install additional sensors on the air vehicle, increasing the amount and types of information available to warfighters.

Global Hawk flies autonomously at an altitude of more than 60,000 feet, above inclement weather and prevailing winds, for more than 35 hours at a time. During a single mission, it can provide detailed intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance information in near-real time over 40,000 square miles - approximately the size of Illinois.

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 on 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.

  CONTACT:  Revelle Anderson
          Northrop Grumman Integrated Systems
          (858) 618-4405 office
          (858) 205-7694 cellular