CARSON, Calif., Jan. 16, 2003 (PRIMEZONE) -- The battlefield digitization business of Northrop Grumman Corporation's (NYSE:NOC) Mission Systems sector has received the Software Engineering Institute's (SEI) Level 4 maturity rating against the newest standard for benchmarking the industry's best practices.

Achieving this rating against SEI's Capability Maturity Model-Integrated (CMMI)* standard places the business unit in the top tier of Department of Defense and other federal government contractor organizations.

"This was a tremendous team effort by the division," said Otto Guenther, vice president and general manager, Tactical Systems Division. "We will leverage the success of this business unit to move the entire division to a CMMI Level 4 rating in the near future to better serve our customers."

The battlefield digitization business within the company's Tactical Systems Division earned a Level 3 rating just five months ago. It is scheduled this year for CMMI Level 5 assessment, SEI's highest software maturity level.

The rating was achieved in a recent week-long appraisal at the company's Carson, Calif.-based facility. The assessment was led by Jeff Facemire, appraisal team leader from Comskil, an external organization independent of Northrop Grumman.

"The synergy between Six Sigma and CMMI has been tremendous," said Facemire. "Through Six Sigma projects, the battlefield digitization business unit has not only implemented the statistical process control needed for Level 4 but also made significant progress toward Level 5."

Two software engineering programs participated in the assessment: the Tactical Internet Management System and Force XXI Battle Command Brigade and Below (FBCB2) programs for the U.S. Army. Last year, FBCB2 was named one of the government's "Top 5 Quality Software Projects" by CrossTalk, The Journal of Defense Software Engineering. SEI is a federally funded research and development center sponsored by the Defense Department and operated by Carnegie Mellon University. There are five levels of CMMI maturity, with the higher maturity levels indicating a lower risk because of the better practices employed by the organization.

The latest CMMI standard was developed by a coalition of industry, government and SEI to objectively assess the full range of an organization's engineering capabilities. CMMI combines the process areas for software engineering, systems engineering and integrated product development into a single, more comprehensive model. Under the previous CMMI rating standard, these areas were assessed separately.

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.

* Capability Maturity Model, CMM, and CMMI are registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office by Carnegie Mellon University.

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  CONTACT:  Linda Javier
          Northrop Grumman Mission Systems
          (310) 812-4105