CLEARFIELD, Utah, and RESTON, Va., June 23, 2003 (PRIMEZONE) -- As Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC) marks five years as prime manager of the nation's Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) force, the company is continuing to meet its commitment to ensure the viability of the U.S. nuclear deterrent force through 2020.
When the U.S. Air Force awarded the 15-year contract to Northrop Grumman in December 1997, it turned responsibility over to a prime integrator that would manage a team of companies charged with sustaining and modernizing the silo-based ICBM fleet. Prior to this award, the company served as systems engineering and technical advisor to the Air Force helping it manage the ICBM force for more than 40 years.
"When we assumed our role as prime in February 1998, both the Air Force and Northrop Grumman embarked on a new way of managing the ICBM program," said Donald C. Winter, corporate vice president and president of the company's Mission Systems sector. "Since then, we have successfully maintained the fleet, initiated several key modernization programs, and established a strong core industrial base dedicated to preserving the force."
Four principle teammates -- Lockheed Martin Corp., The Boeing Company, ATK Thiokol Propulsion and Pratt & Whitney -- along with more than 20 subcontractors make up the Northrop Grumman team. "Company partisanship is left behind," added Winter. "We have a gray-badge mentality here, which means we all pull together to accomplish our task."
The contract's current value is $3.2 billion, and the team is within one percent of cost and schedule. The projected value of the contract over 15 years is $6 billion, if all options are exercised. Since January, Mission Systems has received approximately $258 million in options and new awards, with a total of $850 million estimated for 2003.
A significant new effort awarded in January was the Minuteman Environmental Control System Replacement Program, under which the company will provide cooling, air quality and environmental conditioning to Minuteman launch facilities and missile alert facilities. Northrop Grumman has subcontracted with Engineered Air Systems, Inc. of St. Louis, Mo., to provide heating, ventilation and air conditioning subsystems for integration into the weapon system facilities.
"We are now engaged in the heavy lifting portion of the contract," Winter said. "The team has a series of modernization efforts underway, ranging in cost from less than $1 million to over $1.5 billion, that are designed to extend the service life of the Minuteman III system. These efforts include replacing the propulsion system, updating the guidance system, upgrading the launch command center, and providing technical support to the Air Force as it deactivates the Peacekeeper missile, an action resulting from the Nuclear Posture Review."
The Nuclear Posture Review, released by the Department of Defense last year as required by Congress, presents the direction for American nuclear forces over the next 10 years and reaffirmed the need for the Minuteman III through 2020.
"Just managing the enormity of the ICBM program is a huge challenge, as many of the modernization efforts are dependent upon each other," said John Clay, Northrop Grumman ICBM vice president and program manager in Clearfield, Utah. Clay said his team established a systematic approach to synchronize all deployment efforts that minimizes the burden on Air Force maintenance personnel and security forces while maximizing alert readiness.
Since keeping missiles on alert is so essential, Northrop Grumman initiated processes for weapons assessment and risk management to anticipate and resolve potential problems before resulting in unacceptable system performance.
"Both initiatives have been very successful in keeping ahead of problems that may arise in maintaining the system," said Col. Rob Fisher, program director, ICBM System Program Office.
Preserving the ICBM core industrial base is as important to the long-term viability of the weapon system as modernization. "The stability of the teammate environment has enabled us to nurture and sustain the people our country needs to provide the ICBM-unique engineering skills and talent that will keep this program strong," Clay said.
Northrop Grumman Mission Systems, based in Reston, Va., is a $3.5 billion global integrator of complex, mission-enabling systems and services for defense, intelligence and civil government markets. The sector's technology leadership and expertise spans areas such as strategic systems, including ICBMs; missile defense; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; command and control; and technical services and training. It is part of Northrop Grumman Space & Mission Systems Corporation.
Northrop Grumman Corporation is a $25 billion global defense company, headquartered in Los Angeles, Calif. Northrop Grumman provides technologically advanced, innovative products, services and solutions in systems integration, defense electronics, information technology, advanced aircraft, shipbuilding and space technology. With approximately 120,000 employees and operations in all 50 states and 25 countries, Northrop Grumman serves U.S. and international military, government and commercial customers.
LEARN MORE ABOUT US: Northrop Grumman news releases, product information, photos and video clips are available on the Internet at: http://www.northropgrumman.com . Information specific to the Mission Systems sector is available at: www.ms.northropgrumman.com/index.html
CONTACT: Marynoele Benson Northrop Grumman Mission Systems (703) 741-7723