PALMDALE, Calif., July 19, 2007 (PRIME NEWSWIRE) -- The U.S. Air Force's B-2 stealth bomber would be able to attack and destroy an expanded set of hardened, deeply buried military targets using a new 30,000 pound-class penetrator weapon that Northrop Grumman (NYSE:NOC) has begun integrating on the aircraft.
The company is doing the work under a seven-month, $2.5 million contract awarded June 1 by the Air Force's Aeronautical Systems Center, Wright Patterson AFB, Ohio.
Northrop Grumman is the Air Force's prime contractor on the B-2, the flagship of the nation's long-range strike arsenal.
The new Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP), which is being developed by The Boeing Company, is a GPS-guided weapon containing more than 5,300 pounds of conventional explosives inside a 20.5-foot long enclosure of hardened steel. It is designed to penetrate dirt, rock and reinforced concrete to reach enemy bunker or tunnel installations. The B-2 is capable of carrying two MOPs, one in each weapons bay.
"This integration contract is part of Northrop Grumman's on-going effort to ensure that the B-2 remains capable of delivering a decisive blow to an increasingly sophisticated enemy," said Dave Mazur, vice president of long-range strike for the company's Integrated Systems sector. "It is the first step in helping the Air Force make this new weapon available for operational use on the B-2."
According to Mazur, the Air Force is expected to make a decision later this year on whether to develop a limited operational capability for the MOP, or to proceed with a more comprehensive development program that would optimize the weapon's operational utility.
The current contract will focus on adapting the B-2's weapon bay fixtures to accommodate the new weapon. The B-2 is currently equipped to carry up to 40,000 pounds of conventional ordnance. It can be configured, for example, to carry up to 80 500-lb class GPS-guided bombs or 36 750-lb class bombs in its smart bomb rack assembly, or up to 16 2,000-lb class weapons in its rotary launch assembly.
Integration of the MOP on the B-2 is the latest in a series of modernization programs that Northrop Grumman and its subcontractors have undertaken with the Air Force to ensure that the aircraft remains fully capable against evolving threats. Other recent or current B-2 modernization programs include:
-- A "smart" bomb rack assembly that allows the aircraft to deliver 80 independently-targeted, 500-lb. smart weapons, five times more than previously;
-- Application of a specially formulated surface coating that has significantly reduced B-2 maintenance time and improved operational readiness;
-- Installation of a line-of-sight tactical communications system that improves B-2 pilots' ability to share critical targeting and threat information and maintain real-time awareness of the battlespace; and
-- Installation of an advanced electronically scanned array antenna designed to enable more advanced imaging capabilities in the future.
The B-2 Spirit stealth bomber is one of the most survivable aircraft in the world. It remains the only long-range, large-payload aircraft that can penetrate deeply into protected airspace. In concert with the Air Force's air superiority fleet, which provides airspace control, and the Air Force's tanker fleet, which enables global mobility, the B-2 helps ensure an effective U.S. response to threats anywhere in the world. It can fly more than 6,000 nautical miles unrefueled and more than 10,000 nautical miles with just one aerial refueling, giving it the ability to reach any point on the globe within hours.
Northrop Grumman 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.
CONTACT: Brooks McKinney, APR Northrop Grumman Integrated Systems (310) 331-6610 office (310) 864-3785 cell firstname.lastname@example.org