HUNTSVILLE, Ala. and COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., Oct. 30, 2003 (PRIMEZONE) -- Northrop Grumman Corporation's (NYSE:NOC) Ground-Based Midcourse Defense Fire Control/Communications program, part of the company's Mission Systems Missile Defense Division, has been externally assessed the highest possible rating for benchmarking commercial and defense industry best practices for management and engineering.

The program attained a Level 5 maturity rating against the newest Software Engineering Institute Capability Maturity Model Integrated (CMMI(r)) (see Note) standard.

The program's products are "the brains" of the midcourse segment of the current missile defense program, serving as the command and control center of the system.

"Earning Level 5 performance in both software and systems engineering demonstrates the company's focus on quality," said Jerry Agee, vice president and general manager, Northrop Grumman Mission Systems Missile Defense Division. "For several years, the Ground-Based Midcourse Defense Fire Control/Communications program has been a showcase program for Northrop Grumman, executed by a talented staff and enormously successful in an environment of defined processes. By achieving Level 5, the program has demonstrated an ability to quantitatively manage the program to foster improvement and thus achieve even greater success. As we pursue key programs this year, like Kinetic Energy Interceptors and Targets and Countermeasures, we will draw on this expertise to deliver best-in-class technologies and processes to our customers to facilitate complete mission success for the Missile Defense Agency."

The Level 5 rating was achieved in a comprehensive appraisal conducted in late September at the company's Huntsville facility. The appraisal was jointly conducted by Comskil, Inc., an external independent organization, and the government in accordance with the industry standard CMMI(r) appraisal method.

"The Ground-Based Midcourse Defense Fire Control/Communications program has a history of strong processes," said Galina Knopman of Comskil, Inc. "Management support, coupled with their Six Sigma program, has created a continuous-improvement culture focused on increased program performance and customer satisfaction. The entire program team demonstrated strong knowledge of and experience with the program's processes."

The CMMI(r) standard was developed by a coalition of industry, government and the Software Engineering Institute to objectively assess the full range of an organization's engineering capabilities. There are five levels of CMMI(r) maturity, each a layer in the foundation for ongoing process improvement, designated by the numbers one through five with five being the highest. Higher maturity levels signify lower risks to successful program execution.

Achieving this rating against Software Engineering Institute's CMMI(r) maturity model demonstrates Northrop Grumman Mission Systems' early and broad commitment to CMMI(r), and positions the company as a top-tier contractor within the Department of Defense and other federal agencies.

The Ground-Based Midcourse Defense Fire Control/Communications program is staffed by more than 500 employees in Huntsville, Colorado Springs, Crystal City, Va., and the Reagan Missile Test Range in the Marshall Islands.

Northrop Grumman's Role in Missile Defense

From detection to tracking to engagement, Northrop Grumman is bringing its entire suite of expertise in systems integration, high-tech weaponry, and domain knowledge to bear on the challenge of a global, multilayered missile defense capability. Prime roles include the Defense Support Program satellite, the Space Tracking and Surveillance System, the Joint National Integration Center, the Joint Tactical Ground Station and the Liquid Booster target program. Northrop Grumman is also leading teams pursuing the Missile Defense Agency's Kinetic Energy Interceptors program and the Targets and Countermeasures program, and playing a leading role developing and upgrading the Aegis platform.

Major roles on the Ground-based Midcourse Defense program include the Fire Control/Communications System, the Command Launch Equipment Command and Control system, the canister package for the Ground-based Interceptor, and support for target launch vehicles from Vandenberg Air Force Base.

As a leader in chemical lasers, Northrop Grumman is developing the high-power chemical laser component of the Missile Defense Agency's Airborne Laser program and has designed and built the Tactical High Energy Laser for the U.S. Army and the Israel Ministry of Defence. Northrop Grumman also provides payloads and mission processing for SBIRS-High and STSS, support services and active/passive sensor technology.

Northrop Grumman Mission Systems, based in Reston, Va., is a 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 intercontinental ballistic missiles; missile defense; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; command and control; and technical services and training.

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

  CONTACT:  Marynoele Benson
          Northrop Grumman Mission Systems 
          (703) 741-7723