SAN DIEGO, Aug. 14, 2008 (PRIME NEWSWIRE) -- NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center has awarded a five-year contract to Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC) for engineering and technical services to support NASA's use of Global Hawk unmanned aircraft for Earth science research.

The contract supports NASA's planned operation of two Global Hawk aircraft, their associated ground control station and related systems. Northrop Grumman's technical assistance will include analysis, design support for unique systems, simulations, software development and engineering, and operational and manufacturing support. The indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity, sole-source contract has a value of up to $25 million.

Under a Space Act Agreement signed in April 2008, NASA and Northrop Grumman are bringing to flight two pre-production Global Hawk air vehicles for NASA research activities. NASA will use the autonomously operated unmanned aircraft for missions supporting its Science Mission Directorate and the Earth science community that require high-altitude, long-endurance, long-distance airborne capability.

The two Global Hawks were transferred to NASA in September 2007 by the U.S. Air Force, which had no further requirements for the pre-production aircraft. They were among the first seven built during the Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration program sponsored by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

Northrop Grumman will share in the use of the Global Hawk aircraft to conduct its own flight demonstrations for expanded markets, missions and airborne capabilities, including integration of unmanned aircraft systems into the national airspace.

As the world's first fully autonomous, high-altitude, long-endurance unmanned aerial system, Global Hawk can fly at altitudes up to 65,000 feet for more than 31 hours at a time. Global Hawk is supporting the Air Force in the global war on terrorism, providing persistent intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance to warfighters. To date, Global Hawks have flown more than 24,000 hours.

Global Hawk has many potential applications for the advancement of science, improvement of hurricane monitoring techniques, development of disaster support capabilities, and development of advanced UAS technologies. In October 2007, Air Force Global Hawks were used to monitor wildfires in Southern California.

Northrop Grumman Corporation is a 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: Jim Hart
         Northrop Grumman Integrated Systems
         (310) 331-3616