PALMDALE, Calif., Jan. 4, 2007 (PRIME NEWSWIRE) -- Northrop Grumman Corporation's (NYSE:NOC) Airborne Signals Intelligence Payload (ASIP), a next generation signals intelligence sensor for the U.S. Air Force, recently took to the air on its first flight aboard the U-2 aircraft, launching the flight test phase of the program.

ASIP delivers enhanced signals intelligence capabilities to the warfighter. It detects, identifies and locates radar and other types of electronic and modern communication signals. A key attribute of the ASIP payload is an open, scaleable architecture that allows future system upgrades to be easily added and sensors readily reconfigured in support of evolving warfighter needs.

The ASIP U-2 flight test program begins with sensor and aircraft calibration activities and progresses to full signals intelligence functional and performance flight test. The ASIP sensors will complete flight test on the U-2 in 2007 with operational fielding expected in 2008. The Global Hawk variant of the ASIP sensor will complete flight testing in 2008 and begin production in 2009 with operational fielding expected in late 2012.

"This flight test is a major accomplishment for the ASIP industry team and a first step in providing the warfighter with a modern and robust signal exploitation system. The entire team has worked hard to realize this milestone, and I am confident that future flight tests will validate the sensor's maturity to achieve its operational milestone," said Imad Bitar, vice president of Northrop Grumman Mission Systems sector's Electromagnetic Systems Laboratory business unit.

ASIP is a System-of-Systems development program involving multiple Air Force and industry organizations. The ASIP industry team includes Northrop Grumman as prime contractor for the development of the ASIP sensor and the Global Hawk platform; Lockheed Martin Corporation, Bethesda, Md., which provides the U-2 aircraft and ground station interface; L-3 Communications, New York, which provides the data link; and Raytheon Company, Waltham, Mass., which provides sensor support and ground station interface.

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

  CONTACT:  George I. Seffers
          Northrop Grumman Mission Systems 
          (703) 345-8548
          George.Seffers@ngc.com