ROLLING MEADOWS, Ill., Aug. 16, 2006 (PRIMEZONE) -- Northrop Grumman Corporation's (NYSE:NOC) LITENING AT targeting system continues to proceed toward an additional flight clearance anticipated this fall in support of U.S. Marine Corps F/A-18 Hornets through the efforts of a government-industry team. In addition to operations on the aircraft's centerline (station 5), the new clearance will provide the Marines with the added flexibility of also carrying LITENING on the Hornet's port fuselage (station 4). The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) will also be flying the LITENING AT pod aboard their F/A-18s on station 4.
The Hornet typically carries its targeting system on station 4 to preserve the centerline station for a fuel tank or other stores. In order to expedite LITENING AT employment on the F/A-18 in support of Marines engaged in Iraq, the Marine Corps elected to perform a quick-reaction minor aircraft modification to mount the pod on station 5. However, station 4 carriage is still required and was planned to occur by the end of this year.
"The Marines have accumulated over 32,000 hours of LITENING AT use on station 5," said Mike Lennon, vice president of targeting and surveillance programs at Northrop Grumman's Defensive Systems Division. "I am pleased that the station 4 clearance team is ahead of schedule and focusing on October for giving the Marines the required go-ahead."
The Marine Corps is funding the station 4 integration effort, and propulsion, handling qualities and weapons separation testing completed to date have yielded positive results. Successful completion of the on-going testing will result in the issuance of a pod and station 4 pylon flight clearance for tactical combat sorties.
"LITENING AT on station 4 is our number one priority for expeditionary USMC F/A-18's," said Maj. Douglas Douds of Headquarters Marine Corps. "It will give us the flexibility to utilize either station 4 or 5 depending on our mission. We have already taken delivery of 24 left-handed LITENING ATs that can be used on station 4, and plan to buy an additional 86 pods to support all of Marine TACAIR. We are also moving forward with integration of LITENING ATs on Marine EA-6Bs, so it is the targeting system of choice for all our expeditionary aircraft."
Last year the RAAF selected Northrop Grumman's LITENING AT over all other 3rd generation targeting pods in a head-to-head competition. LITENING AT was deemed the best value pod for the RAAF and they will start taking deliveries of their pods in October of this year.
"We have been the beneficiary of all the hard work that the U.S. Marine Corps has done to date," said RAAF Squadron Leader Dave Dawson, Hornet Upgrade Project Manager for LITENING. "Northrop Grumman started the initial integration work and the Marines are completing the certification testing, so we will be able to fly on station 4 once we take delivery of our pods. We look forward to extending this collaborative effort with the Marines to include additional capabilities such as data links in our LITENING AT pods."
Canada and Finland are also conducting competitions to equip their F/A-18s, and Northrop Grumman is offering the LITENING AT to both countries.
Northrop Grumman Corporation is a global defense company headquartered in Los Angeles, Calif. 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 120,000 employees and operations in all 50 states and 25 countries, Northrop Grumman serves U.S. and international military, government and commercial customers.
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