PROMONTORY, Utah, Sept. 7, 2007 (PRIME NEWSWIRE) -- On the heels of a successful Stage 1 test burn just three months ago, and with its eye on a booster flight test next year, the Kinetic Energy Interceptors (KEI) program team fired another powerful Stage 1 rocket motor yesterday, its fourth consecutive test in the past 18 months. Under contract to the Missile Defense Agency (MDA), Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC) is the KEI prime contractor, with Raytheon Company as the principal subcontractor.

KEI is a land-based missile defense system featuring the U.S. Missile Defense Agency's (MDA) newest high acceleration booster. Fully deployed, the system will be capable of destroying intermediate and intercontinental ballistic missiles in their boost, ascent and midcourse phases of flight. KEI is currently focused on booster development leading toward a 2008 booster flight.

"Confidence in KEI continues to be extremely high," said Craig Staresinich, Northrop Grumman KEI vice president and general manager. "This program has accomplished everything the MDA has set out for it to do, in large part because of our rigorous testing program. This, coupled with the enormous talent we have on this program, has enabled us to reach several critical knowledge points. Each test proves the viability of the KEI booster. We look forward to the next six tests as we prepare to further demonstrate our capability next year."

During the test at the Alliant Techsystems (ATK) facility in Promontory, the first-stage rocket motor ignited properly and successfully completed a full-duration burn. Initial results from the test matched expectations for performance and integrity. The exercise successfully achieved the ballistic missile performance with an elevated firing temperature and with the new hybrid nozzle throat, both critical objectives for the test.

Yesterday's test marks the third of five planned tests to be conducted of the stage 1 motor. With each test, the team reduces risk by deriving data from each subsequent test to optimize design performance and finalize development of the flight configuration motor.

KEI is a three-stage, solid-fueled ballistic missile interceptor that is approximately 40 inches in diameter and 466 inches in length. Stage 1 and Stage 2 make up the propulsion system for the missile, which will eventually carry the future multiple kill vehicle.

Northrop Grumman is leading a team charged with developing and testing a KEI capability for the MDA. Raytheon leads the interceptor development work for the KEI program with ATK as its principal subcontractor responsible for performing the Stage 1 and Stage 2 rocket-motor development work. Orbital Sciences is responsible for integrating the booster and preparing for range operations to execute the booster flight in 2008.

In addition to these three Stage 1 tests, the team has also proven the Stage 2 motor concept and plans four more tests of that motor in Elkton, Md., through 2008. The Northrop Grumman KEI team is nationwide, with major operations in Fair Lakes, Va.; Huntsville, Ala; and San Bernardino, Calif. Principal teammates include Raytheon Company, Tucson, Ariz.; ATK, Promontory, Utah, and Elkton, Md.; Orbital Sciences, Phoenix and Chandler, Ariz.; Honeywell, Tempe, Ariz.; Aerojet, Sacramento, Calif.; Ball Aerospace, Colorado Springs, Colo.; and Kuchera, Johnstown, Pa.

Northrop Grumman Corporation 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:  Marynoele R. Benson
          Northrop Grumman Mission Systems
          (703) 345-6734