REDONDO BEACH, Calif., Feb. 25, 2008 (PRIME NEWSWIRE) -- Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC) and industry teammates have completed installing the six laser modules that comprise the core of the world's largest mobile laser on the U.S. Missile Defense Agency's Airborne Laser (ABL).

A laser module is the fundamental building block of the ABL's high-energy laser, known as the Chemical Oxygen Iodine Laser (COIL). Six laser modules are linked together to achieve megawatt-class power using common industrial chemicals to create the system's lethal beam. This capability was demonstrated previously in the Systems Integration Laboratory (SIL) at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., in 2005.

"Completion of laser module installation means that the overall integration of the megawatt-class laser onto the prototype ABL aircraft is more than 70% percent complete after about five months of activity," said Alexis Livanos, Northrop Grumman corporate vice president and president of the company's Space Technology sector. He noted that the COIL took three years to initially assemble and activate in the SIL.

To prepare for the current or high-power system integration phase, required laser parts were refurbished, and a streamlined planning and integration sequence was put in place. Substantial facility upgrades further positioned the ABL team to complete the laser module installation as part of the overall laser integration. High-power ground tests are scheduled to begin later this year with flight testing following in early 2009.

Dan Wildt, vice president of Directed Energy Systems for Northrop Grumman Space Technology, noted other reasons for the on-schedule pace of laser module installation. "Completion of the laser refurbishment in 2007 means required parts are available to the integration team for installation of the High Energy Laser."

The Boeing Company (NYSE:BA), ABL's prime contractor, provides the modified 747-400F ABL aircraft along with the battle management system and leads overall systems integration and testing. Northrop Grumman supplies the missile-killing high-energy laser, as well as the beacon illuminator laser, which is used to measure atmospheric conditions between the aircraft and the target. Lockheed Martin (NYSE:LMT) provides the beam control/fire control system, which incorporates the beacon illuminator laser and ABL's other illuminator, the track illuminator laser, which tracks hostile ballistic missiles.

Northrop Grumman Corporation is a $32 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:  Bob Bishop
          Northrop Grumman Space Technology
          Cell: 310.251.0261