SAN DIEGO, May 7, 2001 (PRIMEZONE) -- Northrop Grumman Corporation's (NYSE:NOC) Fire Scout Vertical Takeoff and Landing Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (VTUAV) system moves into low-rate initial production (LRIP) with a $14.2 million contract from the U.S. Navy's Naval Air Systems Command. The company's Integrated Systems Sector (ISS) received the award recently for the first of three planned LRIP options.

Currently in Engineering and Manufacturing Development, the Fire Scout system will provide reconnaissance, situational awareness and precision targeting support for the Navy and forces ashore. The system is designed to autonomously operate from any aviation-capable ship. It will provide continuous operations with a vehicle endurance of more than six hours and coverage 110 nautical miles from its launch site using a baseline payload that includes electro-optical/infrared sensors and a laser designator.

The first LRIP system will be deployed with the U.S. Marine Corps, and will include three air vehicles, two ground control stations, a data link suite, remote data terminals and modular mission payloads.

The contract also includes funding for associated support equipment, data and initial training. Work will be performed in San Diego, Calif.; Elmira, N.Y.; Salt Lake City, Utah; Baltimore, Md.; and Sparks, Nev., and is expected to be complete by April 2002.

"This award follows the completion of a very successful final design review," said Tom Soard, Northrop Grumman's VTUAV program manager. "Members of the team have been diligent in preparing the program for LRIP and this award is testament to their efforts."

As prime contractor, Northrop Grumman ISS' Air Combat Systems business area manages the program from its facility in San Diego. The Northrop Grumman VTUAV team includes the company's Electronic Sensors and Systems Sector (ES3), based in Baltimore, Md., which is teamed with TAMAM-Israel Aircraft Industries and is responsible for the sensor payload. It also includes Schweizer Aircraft Corporation, Elmira, N.Y.; Lockheed Martin Systems Integration, Owego, N.Y.; L-3 Communications, Salt Lake City, Utah, and Sierra Nevada Corporation, Sparks, Nev.

Northrop Grumman's ISS, headquartered in Dallas, Tex., is a premier aerospace systems integration enterprise. ISS has the capabilities to design, develop, integrate, produce and support complete systems, as well as airframe subsystems, for airborne surveillance and battle management aircraft, early warning aircraft, airborne electronic warfare aircraft and air combat aircraft.

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          Cynthia Curiel
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