LINTHICUM, Md., June 9, 2008 (PRIME NEWSWIRE) -- An academic and industrial consortium led by Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC) has been awarded the first phase of an advanced research contract to develop a panoramic day/night optical system that will utilize human brain activity to detect, analyze and alert foot-soldiers to possible threats.

Awarded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the Cognitive Technology Threat Warning System program, or CT2WS, is part of the U.S. Department of Defense's effort to address a key mission need and represents a significant leap forward in technology from that available today.

The goal of the CT2WS program is to drive a breakthrough in soldier-portable visual threat warning devices. Once successfully developed, the intelligent neuro-optical system will provide the warfighter with an unprecedented capability to detect targets of interest at an extremely long range over a wide field of view. In Phase One of the program, the Northrop Grumman team plans to demonstrate the concept by building a breadboard system and complete a preliminary design for the company's Human-aided Optical Recognition/Notification of Elusive Threats (HORNET) system.

HORNET will utilize a custom helmet equipped with electro-encephalogram electrodes placed on the scalp to record the user's continuous electrical brain activity. The operator's neural responses to the presence or absence of potential threats will train the system's algorithms, which will continue to be refined over time so that the warfighter is always presented with items of relevance to his mission.

"Northrop Grumman's HORNET system leverages the latest advances in real-time coupling of human brain activity with automated cognitive neural processing to provide superior target detection," says Michael House, Northrop Grumman's CT2WS program manager. "The system will maintain persistent surveillance in order to defeat an enemy's attempts to surprise through evasive move-stop-move tactics, giving the U.S. warfighter as much as a 20-minute advantage over his adversaries."

When deployed, HORNET will support a wide variety of military and homeland defense applications, including force protection, improvised explosive device (IED) defeat, border surveillance and applications now using aided target recognition.

Following the first 12-month, $6.7 million phase of the project, DARPA has the option to extend the contract for two additional phases to develop the subsystems and final handheld assemblies.

Northrop Grumman's multi-disciplinary team includes SAIC, San Diego, Calif.; Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Ga.; Theia Technologies LLC, Wilsonville, Ore.; Sensics, Inc., Baltimore, Md.; L-3 Communications Infrared Products, Dallas, Texas; Georgetown University, Wash., D.C.; Portland State University, Portland, Ore.; and the University of Colorado, Boulder, Colo.

Northrop Grumman Corporation is a 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:  Alleace Gibbs
          Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems
          (410) 765-1294