NEWPORT NEWS, Va., Sept. 19, 2002 (PRIMEZONE) -- Northrop Grumman (NYSE:NOC) Newport News successfully conducted testing today on the number one catapult of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan (CVN 76). This is the second successful catapult to be tested and is an essential part of the process necessary to deliver Reagan to the U.S. Navy.

"Today marks a significant milestone in Reagan's construction," said Bob Gunter, senior vice president for the Newport News Aircraft Carrier Program. "The hard work and dedication of the catapult team, comprised of Newport News employees, the crew of the Reagan and Naval Air Systems Command, has led to a successful start in the catapult testing process."

Nimitz-class aircraft carriers have four steam-powered catapults which launch aircraft from the flight deck of the carrier. These catapults can thrust a 48,000-pound aircraft 300 feet, from zero to 165 miles per hour in two seconds.

Northrop Grumman Newport News is working closely with the Ronald Reagan Pre-Commissioning Unit on this testing, which consists of launching large containers called deadloads off the flight deck of the carrier. These deadloads are equal in weight to the planes that will ultimately be launched from Reagan's flight deck. Testing of all four catapults will be completed later this year.

Ronald Reagan is the ninth ship of the Nimitz class. At 1,092 feet long, the Reagan will be home to 6,000 sailors, carry more than 80 aircraft and cruise at speeds in excess of 30 knots. The 90,000-ton carrier will tower 20 stories above the water line with a flight deck covering 4 1/2 acres. When Reagan joins the Navy's fleet in 2003, it will be the most modern and sophisticated aircraft carrier in the world.

Northrop Grumman Newport News, headquartered in Newport News, Va., is the nation's sole designer, builder and refueler of nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and one of only two companies capable of designing and building nuclear powered submarines. Newport News also provides after-market services for a wide array of naval and commercial vessels, and has the capability to design, build and maintain every class of ship in the U.S. Navy's fleet. The Newport News sector employs about 18,000 people.

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  CONTACT:  Jerri Fuller Dickseski
          Northrop Grumman Newport News
          (757) 380-2341