MELBOURNE, Fla., Aug. 6, 2001 (PRIMEZONE) -- Northrop Grumman Corporation's (NYSE:NOC) Integrated Systems Sector (ISS) delivered the first Block 20 E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (Joint STARS) production aircraft to the U.S. Air Force today, more than three weeks ahead of schedule. This is the 11th production aircraft and seventh consecutive E-8C delivered early. The 93rd Air Control Wing, based at Robins AFB, Ga., operates the Joint STARS.

The Block 20 E-8C's contain commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) technology computers for operating the Joint STARS surveillance equipment. Each airplane uses 20 AlphaServer ES40CV systems from Compaq Computer Corporation, running the OpenVMS operating system. Eighteen of those systems will function as workstations, one as a central computer and one as a central backup.

"By using commercially available computer systems, we are able to provide the customer with increased reliability, advanced technologies and increased processing power, all while achieving the original goal of this program -- to provide lower cost per aircraft," said Frank Moore, Airborne Ground Surveillance and Battle Management (AGS&BM) Systems vice president and Joint STARS Integrated Product Team leader. "This may be the largest integrated application of COTS technology in a weapons system anywhere in the Air Force."

"Traditionally, equipment used in the military surveillance and combat environments has been highly specialized and highly customized," said Rich Marcello, vice president and general manager of Compaq's High Performance Systems division. "The fact that commercially available technology like Compaq's AlphaServer ES40CV systems can be integrated into those environments is a testament to the performance, reliability and functionality of Compaq's industry-leading technology."

"Application of COTS technology will provide improved maintainability for the Air Force," said Alan Doshier, ISS vice president, AGS&BM Systems. "We're pleased to deliver this first Block 20 airframe to the Air Force ahead of schedule. It's a great testament to the teamwork between our 707 refurbishment folks in Lake Charles, La., the systems integrators in Melbourne, Fla., and our Norden Systems partners in Connecticut."

Northrop Grumman's ISS is the prime contractor for the E-8C Joint STARS, the world's most advanced airborne surveillance and target acquisition system that provides real-time, accurate information about vehicles on the ground and slow-moving aircraft for peacekeeping missions and battlefield decision-making.

This delivery brings the number of operational E-8C's to 11. Northrop Grumman is currently under contract for four more Joint STARS, which are in production, and long-lead procurement for one additional aircraft.

ISS refurbishes Boeing 707 series aircraft at its Lake Charles facility. Norden Systems, Norwalk, Conn., a unit of Northrop Grumman's Electronic Sensors and Systems Sector, manufactures the Joint STARS radar sensor, a key component. The 24-foot Joint STARS radar and the computer systems are installed at the sector's AGS&BM Systems facility in Melbourne. The Melbourne team completes work on the production aircraft with ground and flight-testing of the system. The Melbourne team also provides support to the 93rd Air Control Wing and the Warner Robins Air Logistics Center at Robins AFB under a Total System Support Responsibility (TSSR) contract. The TSSR effort is a unique partnership between AGS&BM Systems and the Warner Robins Air Logistics Center to provide the most efficient support to the E-8C Joint STARS fleet, maximizing operational availability and mission reliability.

Northrop Grumman's ISS, headquartered in Dallas, Tex., is a premier aerospace systems integration enterprise. ISS has the capabilities to design, develop, integrate, produce and support complete systems, as well as airframe subsystems, for airborne surveillance and battle management aircraft, early warning aircraft, airborne electronic warfare aircraft and air combat aircraft.

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