EL SEGUNDO, Calif., Nov. 10, 2003 (PRIMEZONE) -- Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC) today achieved a major milestone on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program by starting production of the first major airframe components for the stealthy, multirole fighter.

At precisely 7 a.m. PST, milling machines at Brek Manufacturing, Gardena, Calif., a platinum source supplier to Northrop Grumman, began cutting metal for the fighter's canopy shelf, which acts as a structural fuel barrier between the fuel tank and the forward fuselage cockpit. Simultaneously, Lockheed Martin, the F-35 JSF prime contractor, began milling other major parts of the F-35's airframe at a subcontractor facility in Arlington, Texas.

"These steps are significant because they take the F-35 program from design to a real aircraft," said Steve Briggs, Northrop Grumman's F-35 program manager. "As the program moves forward, the Northrop Grumman F-35 team will continue using its expertise in total systems design and integration, stealth design, composites design and manufacturing and integrated program management processes to help Lockheed Martin produce and deliver a superior, best-value strike capability to the Department of Defense."

Northrop Grumman Integrated Systems sector is a principal member of Lockheed Martin's F-35 development team. Three other Northrop Grumman sectors, Electronic Systems, Baltimore; Information Technology, Herndon, Va.; and Space Technology, San Diego, also support the program.

Integrated Systems will assemble the F-35 center fuselages at its state-of-the-art factory in Palmdale, Calif., and then ship them to Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, Texas, for final assembly.

"Up to now, the F-35 has existed in a world of mathematical formulas and three-dimensional electronic engineering diagrams. Today it starts emerging as a real airplane," said Tom Burbage, Lockheed Martin executive vice president and general manager of the F-35 program. "We're proud that these first big parts are being produced by small- and veteran-owned businesses. They've proven their ability to produce world-class components for the most advanced multirole fighter in history."

Expected to be the largest military aircraft procurement ever, the stealthy, supersonic F-35 will replace a wide range of aging fighter and strike aircraft. It will provide an affordable capability that's superior to all current-generation fighter aircraft. It will also enable unprecedented levels of interoperability and international cooperation. Three variants derived from a common design will ensure the F-35 meets the performance needs of the U.S. Air Force, Marine Corps, Navy and allied defense forces worldwide.

Nine nations are partnering in the F-35's system development and demonstration phase: the U.S., United Kingdom, Italy, the Netherlands, Turkey, Canada, Denmark, Norway and Australia. Additionally, Israel has agreed to join the program as a security cooperation participant.

Northrop Grumman is responsible for design and integration of the F-35 center fuselage section, including integration of the subsystems; development of a substantial portion of F-35 mission systems software; ground and flight test support; development of flight control software for the Navy carrier variant; development support in the area of signature/low observables, and support of modeling and simulation activities.

Veteran-owned Brek Manufacturing Company integrates large, complex 5-axis machining capabilities with engineering, assembly and kitting operations for military and commercial aircraft. The company, which currently has 117 employees and two facilities with nearly 150,000 square feet of space, has expanded its management capabilities to support integrated technical projects such as the F-35 and other advanced programs.

Northrop Grumman Integrated Systems, headquartered in El Segundo, Calif., is a premier aerospace and defense systems integration enterprise with the capabilities to design, develop, produce and support fully missionized integrated systems and subsystems. Integrated Systems delivers best-value solutions, products and services in support of chosen segments within the broad market areas of battlespace awareness, command and control systems and integrated combat systems.

Members of the news media may receive our releases via e-mail by registering at: http://www.northropgrumman.com/cgi-bin/regist_form.cgi

LEARN MORE ABOUT US: Northrop Grumman news releases, product information, photos and video clips are available on the Internet at: http://www.northropgrumman.com . Information specific to the Integrated Systems sector is available at: www.is.northropgrumman.com/index.html

  CONTACT:  Jim Hart 
          Northrop Grumman Integrated Systems 
          (310) 331-3616

          Louise Muniak
          (703) 898-5353