EL SEGUNDO, Calif., Sept. 22, 2004 (PRIMEZONE) -- Three Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC) engineers who led a team that demonstrated a method to reduce the intensity of sonic booms have received the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics' (AIAA) 2004 Aircraft Design Award.

Charles H. Boccadoro, manager of future strike systems; Joseph W. Pawlowski, project manager for the sonic boom demonstration, and David H. Graham, who led the aerodynamic design team, received their award Tuesday, Sept. 21 at a ceremony held in Chicago in conjunction with the AIAA 3rd "Unmanned Unlimited" Technical Conference, Workshop and Exhibit; the AIAA 4th Aviation Technology, Integration and Operations (ATIO) Forum; and the AIAA 1st Intelligent Systems Technical Conference.

The award is presented annually for the conception, definition or development of an original concept leading to a significant advancement in aircraft design or design technology. AIAA is the world's largest professional society devoted to the progress of engineering and science in aviation, space and defense.

In August 2003, a team from Northrop Grumman's Integrated Systems sector, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and NASA showed that modifying an aircraft's shape can reduce its sonic boom -- a theory that had never before been demonstrated in actual flight.

An aircraft traveling through the atmosphere continuously produces air-pressure waves, similar to waves created by the bow of a ship. When the aircraft exceeds the speed of sound (approximately 750 mph at sea level), the pressure waves combine to form shock waves, which are heard as a sonic boom when they reach the ground.

The Shaped Sonic Boom Demonstration (SSBD) team conducted back-to-back supersonic flights of an F-5E with a modified airframe and an unmodified F-5E at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. Comparison of the sound pressure waves created by the two aircraft showed a significant reduction in sonic boom intensity for the modified aircraft. Results of the demonstration could lead eventually to the production of new aircraft with noticeably quieter sonic booms.

"Once again, Northrop Grumman played a major role in making aviation history," said Gary W. Ervin, vice president, Northrop Grumman Integrated Systems sector. "It is especially gratifying to be recognized by such a prestigious organization in our industry. We're applying lessons learned to our ongoing studies of future military strike systems, which will benefit from more efficient supersonic flight."

Northrop Grumman's industry teammates included Wyle Laboratories, El Segundo; and Eagle Aeronautics, Hampton, Va. Also participating in the SSBD program were General Electric Co., Lockheed Martin Corp. and The Boeing Co.

Northrop Grumman Integrated Systems is a premier aerospace and defense systems integration organization. Headquartered in El Segundo, Calif., it designs, develops, produces and supports integrated systems and subsystems optimized for use on networks. For its government and civil customers worldwide, Integrated Systems delivers best-value solutions, products and services that support military and homeland defense missions in the areas of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; space access; battle management command and control; and integrated strike warfare.

  CONTACT:  Jim Hart
          Northrop Grumman Integrated Systems 
          (310) 331-3616
          james.f.hart@ngc.com