LOS ANGELES, Jan. 16, 2007 (PRIME NEWSWIRE) -- An MD-10 aircraft in commercial revenue service with the Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC) Guardian(tm) system installation departed Los Angeles International Airport today, marking the beginning of the operational test and evaluation portion of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) Counter-Man Portable Air Defense Systems (C-MANPADS) program.
As part of Phase III of the DHS-sponsored program, a Northrop Grumman-led industry team will complete production of Guardian(tm) missile defense systems for installation on MD-10 aircraft. During the test and evaluation effort, which concludes in March 2008, nine MD-10 aircraft equipped with the Guardian(tm) system will be in continual revenue service operation.
The Guardian(tm) system is a defensive aid utilizing proven military technology to defend against the threat posed by anti-aircraft, shoulder-fired missiles. Once launched, the missile is detected by the Guardian(tm) system, which then directs a non-visible, eye-safe laser to the seeker head of the incoming missile, disrupting its guidance signals.
"This milestone marks an important event for Northrop Grumman and the aviation industry. For the first time, we will be able to collect valuable logistics data while operating Guardian(tm) on aircraft in routine commercial service," said Robert L. DelBoca, vice president and general manager of Northrop Grumman's Defensive Systems Division. "We stand ready to protect America's flying public with the proven technology that we supply to our warfighters worldwide in operational theatre."
To date, Northrop Grumman has completed a 16-month flight test program in commercial test operational environments that included the use of a ground-based electronic missile surrogate to simulate the launch of a shoulder-fired missile toward aircraft during takeoff and landing. The tests were performed on an MD-11, an MD-10 and a B-747 aircraft. In each test, the Guardian(tm) system functioned as designed, automatically detecting the simulated launch and mock missile. Had the threats been real, an invisible laser beam safe to humans would have disrupted the missile guidance system and protected the aircraft.
The company's Guardian(tm) system makes use of multi-band laser and other technologies from the company's military directional infrared countermeasures system, the only such protection system currently in production for the U.S. military and several allied nations.
Northrop Grumman's Guardian(tm) system was developed as part of the Department of Homeland Security's initiative aimed at protecting commercial aircraft from attack by ground-based, shoulder-fired missiles. The DHS program is focused on demonstrating the viability, economics and effectiveness of adapting existing military technology to protect commercial aircraft from this terrorist threat.
Northrop Grumman Corporation is a $30 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.
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