RESTON, Va., Jan. 26, 2004 (PRIMEZONE) -- Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC) played a vital role in today's test of the Ground-based Midcourse Defense missile defense system, supplying two key products that helped guide the test to a successful outcome.

Conducted by the U.S. Missile Defense Agency, the test involved launching a Ground-based Midcourse Defense interceptor, from the Reagan Test Site in the Marshall Islands, against a simulated hostile target to demonstrate key capabilities of the interceptor and to monitor and analyze booster flight, kill vehicle separation, and in-flight communication with the interceptor after launch.

The company's Mission Systems sector furnished its newest version of the Ground-based Midcourse Defense fire control and communications capability, and the command launch equipment software, both of which performed as expected.

"The fire control and communications component is the integrating element that ties together the components of the complex Ground-based Midcourse Defense system," said Jerry Agee, vice president and general manager, Missile Defense Division, Northrop Grumman Mission Systems. "This latest version of the fire control software included several new capabilities to more effectively coordinate the operation of the sensors and the interceptor during the flight, thus providing improved battle management information and situation awareness data to commanders."

The fire control and communications component functions as the command and control center for all integrated flight tests. It collects and fuses the sensor reports from surrogate radars and the ground-based radar prototype, and uses this data to generate and send an engagement plan to the ground-based interceptor. Communications hardware and software provide the data links to connect all components of the system for the test.

Northrop Grumman's fire control and communications products have performed successfully in every flight test to date and were recently recognized with a CMMI Level 5 Rating from the Software Engineering Institute for best practices in software development.

Today's test also marked the first use of the newly redesigned In-Flight Interceptor Communications System Data Terminal. The data terminal, developed by Northrop Grumman and its major subcontractor (Harris Corporation), successfully communicated updated target information to the interceptor after launch, a key element in Ground-based Midcourse Defense's defensive capability.

The command launch equipment software uses an engagement plan produced by the fire-control software to plan the intercept trajectory. It provides that information to the interceptor and monitors its health and status up through the time it commands the vehicle to launch. The flight test successfully demonstrated the capabilities of the command launch equipment software and its interfaces to fire control and communications, and the booster and kill vehicle elements of the interceptor.

Work on the fire control and communications and command launch equipment software products is performed in Huntsville, Ala., Anaheim, Calif., Colorado Springs, Colo., Melbourne, Fla., and Arlington, Va.

Northrop Grumman's Role in Missile Defense

The full spectrum of missile defense programs at Northrop Grumman includes prime contractor roles for the Kinetic Energy Interceptors program, Defense Support Program satellite, the Space Tracking and Surveillance System (STSS), the Joint National Integration Center, the Joint Tactical Ground Station, and the Liquid Booster target program. Northrop Grumman is also playing a leading role developing and upgrading the Aegis platform.

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

As a leader in chemical lasers, Northrop Grumman is developing the high-power chemical laser component of the U.S. 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 Corporation is a $25 billion 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 approximately 120,000 employees and operations in all 50 states and 25 countries, Northrop Grumman serves U.S. and international military, government and commercial customers.

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