EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif., Jan. 10, 2006 (PRIMEZONE) -- The U.S. Air Force's Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicle has made its first flight carrying a new sensor that can detect and identify radar and other types of electronic devices from an altitude of 60,000 feet. Global Hawk and the new sensor, known as the High Band System Production Configuration Unit (HBS PCU), are designed and produced by Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC).

The HBS PCU is a key subsystem of the Airborne Signals Intelligence Payload (ASIP) sensor which is being developed and is expected to be operationally fielded in 2008. This system will dramatically increase the signals-collection capabilities of the U.S. armed forces. It will be integrated with the Air Force's Distributed Common Ground Stations, which are used to analyze electronic intelligence gathered by various airborne systems.

Northrop Grumman's Integrated Systems and Mission Systems sectors developed and integrated the HBS PCU with the Global Hawk air vehicle. This development effort, which will include additional flight tests, will be completed by the end of the year.

"Flying the high-band sensor system completes a critical technology development and demonstration milestone, advancing Northrop Grumman's integrated effort to field the next-generation ASIP system," said Dan Allen, vice president and general manager of the Mission System sector's Intelligence Systems division.

"Working together, we've been able to demonstrate a new capability for Global Hawk that will aid warfighters in the near future," said George Guerra, Northrop Grumman's USAF Global Hawk program manager.

Global Hawk flies autonomously at an altitude of at least 60,000 feet, well above inclement weather and prevailing winds for more than 35 hours. During a single mission, it can travel more than 10,000 nautical miles from its take-off location, and it provides detailed image-based intelligence on 40,000 square miles, which is approximately the size of Illinois.

To date, deployed Global Hawks have flown more than 5,000 combat hours in more than 230 missions in support of the war on terrorism.

Northrop Grumman Corporation is a global defense company headquartered in Los Angeles. Northrop Grumman provides technologically advanced, innovative products, services and solutions in systems integration, defense electronics, information technology, advanced aircraft, shipbuilding and space technology. With more than 125,000 employees, and operations in all 50 states and 25 countries, Northrop Grumman serves U.S. and international military, government and commercial customers.