MELBOURNE, Fla., July 16, 2008 (PRIME NEWSWIRE) -- Another of Northrop Grumman Corporation's (NYSE:NOC) line of airborne mine countermeasures products has successfully completed its first flight.

The Airborne Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Minefield Detection System (ASTAMIDS) flew from the company's facility in Melbourne, Fla., aboard a modified U.S. Army UH-1H "Huey" helicopter. The flight occurred on April 30, validating the operability and integration of all the system components. On the first ASTAMIDS flight, all four first-flight objectives were achieved and control of the gimbal via the developmental Tactical Ground Segment software was demonstrated.

Since then, the program team has been executing flight testing of the system's reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition and counter-mine capabilities. According to the current plan, ASTAMIDS is scheduled for Low Rate Initial Production in 2009.

The ASTAMIDS system is designed for the U.S. Army to detect, characterize and locate minefields and obstacles and provide information to help locate and characterize non-mined areas and show safe avenues for U.S. troops. It also will detect, locate and designate combat vehicles, systems and troops, thus providing deep insight into the kinds of tactical threats facing its operators.

"Mines are a particularly insidious threat to our soldiers on the ground, as we're seeing in the world today. Our purpose with ASTAMIDS is to radically increase the safety factor for infantry and mechanized units and assure the success of their missions," said Bob Klein, Northrop Grumman vice president for Maritime and Tactical Systems.

"We have four airborne mine countermeasures systems in production or in the later stages of development. ASTAMIDS and the other systems are made possible by the company's ability to adapt the latest technologies into important new tools for our soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen. These systems represent a tremendous step towards negating the threat of mines at sea, along the beachheads and inland."

The ASTAMIDS's multisensor suite incorporates the latest in reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition and counter-mine technology in a lightweight, self-contained airborne payload. Beyond current capabilities, the Army is developing algorithms that will be inserted into the Future Combat System program to address single on-route mines by processing ASTAMIDS imagery.

Northrop Grumman's other airborne mine countermeasures programs are: the Coastal Battlefield Reconnaissance & Analysis (COBRA) system that is being developed for the U.S. Marine Corps, and also is in flight testing; the Airborne Laser Mine Detection System (ALMDS), designed for the U.S. Navy to detect and pinpoint mines at sea and now in low-rate initial production; and, also for the Navy, the Rapid Airborne Mine Clearance System (RAMICS) to destroy floating or submerged mines with a 30 mm cannon mounted on an MH-60S helicopter using data from ALMDS. RAMICS is in an early testing phase.

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:  John A. Vosilla
          Northrop Grumman Integrated Systems
          (516) 575-5119