PALMDALE, Calif., March 28, 2006 (PRIMEZONE) -- Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC) has completed an upgrade of the U.S. Air Force's B-2 stealth bomber that allows the aircraft to deliver five times its previous capacity of independently targeted, "smart" (GPS-guided) weapons.

The company delivered the 54th and final smart bomb rack assembly (SBRA) earlier this month to the Air Force's 509th Bomb Wing at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., home of the B-2 fleet. A SBRA-equipped stealth bomber can deliver 80 500-pound smart weapons, each targeted against a different aimpoint.

Northrop Grumman is the prime contractor for the B-2, which remains the only long-range, large payload aircraft that can penetrate deep into protected airspace. Combined with superior airspace control provided by the F-22 Raptor and global mobility provided by tanker aircraft, the B-2 ensures an effective U.S. response to threats anywhere in the world.

The SBRA upgrade program enhances the B-2's ability to respond to current and emerging worldwide threats as a key element of the military's network-centric warfare concept.

"We are increasing the B-2's capability and flexibility in areas such as weapons loads; precision targeting and retargeting; communications for better situational awareness and mission updates; and airframe maintainability," said Gene Fraser, vice president and B-2 program manager at Northrop Grumman's Integrated Systems sector. "In this way, the B-2 will provide even greater effects for joint force commanders."

Northrop Grumman was awarded a $131 million Air Force contract in 2001 to develop the SBRA system, including substantial modifications to hardware and software on the B-2. In 2003, Northrop Grumman was awarded another contract to begin conversion of 45 existing B-2 bomb rack assemblies to the new configuration (in addition to nine that were converted during the development phase of the program). The total value of the production work was $31.7 million. All bomb rack conversions were delivered to the Air Force on or ahead of schedule.

Northrop Grumman was responsible for development, validation and production of the SBRA system and integration of the GBU-38 (JDAM-82) 500-pound smart weapon on the B-2. The JDAM is produced by The Boeing Company, which also designed and fabricated the B-2 SBRA hardware kits for the SBRA conversion under a subcontract to Northrop Grumman.

Northrop Grumman Corporation is a global defense company headquartered in Los Angeles, Calif. Northrop Grumman provides technologically advanced, innovative products, services and solutions in systems integration, defense electronics, information technology, advanced aircraft, shipbuilding and space technology. With approximately 125,000 employees and operations in all 50 states and 25 countries, Northrop Grumman serves U.S. and international military, government and commercial customers.