MELBOURNE, Fla. Aug. 29, 2001 (PRIMEZONE) -- A Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC) team successfully engaged a moving vehicle yesterday with a low-cost, precision weapon as part of a contract to develop an Affordable Moving Surface Target Engagement (AMSTE) capability for the Department of Defense. The test took place at the Eglin AFB test range.

The one-year, $12 million project is funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's Special Projects Office in conjunction with the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory in Rome, N.Y., and is being conducted by Northrop Grumman Integrated Systems.

The purpose of the AMSTE program is to develop a system that locates and tracks a ground target moving at up to 50 m.p.h. and destroys it with an affordable precision weapon.

"This technology makes it possible for commanders to conduct multiple, near-simultaneous, stand-off precision engagements of even the most mobile targets in all weather," said Bill McCall, senior program manager at Integrated Systems. "We have designed an open architecture that will work with multiple intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platforms, multiple attack platforms and multiple weapons and still be compatible with current command and control systems, using established message sets, procedures and communications links."

"With this capability, we'll be able to find and follow those targets that are trying to evade detection and destroy them with little collateral damage, effectively denying the enemy sanctuary of movement," he said.

The test was designed to couple Integrated Systems' Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System precision ground moving target indicator (GMTI) with a Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) active electronically-scanned array radar with precision GMTI capability. The JSF candidate radar, developed by Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems in Baltimore for the Lockheed Martin/Northrop Grumman/BAE SYSTEMS JSF team, was mounted on a company-owned BAC I-II test-bed aircraft. Real-time precision tracking and engagement data was gathered by each radar and used to direct a low-cost, precision weapon produced by Lockheed Martin Missile and Fire Control of Orlando, Fla. The weapon was launched from an Air Force F-16 and dropped on a moving target on the Eglin range.

The Northrop Grumman AMSTE solution complements the Air Force's Concept of Operations for the Time Critical Targeting (TCT) Cell. The TCT Cell is designed to automate and integrate the kill chain process against targets that, to a large extent, are "time critical" because of their movement. The AMSTE solution provides a commander with many of the capabilities needed to operate like a weapon system against these targets by addressing the critical engagement period that extends from target nomination through weapon impact.

Specifically, AMSTE provides the TCT Cell with the ability to ensure that the moving targets it nominates will be precisely targeted. Additionally, AMSTE makes it possible for these movers to be targeted from a standoff distance, in all weather conditions, and while using low-cost weapons. With the addition of AMSTE, joint forces will possess the capability to defeat anti-access threats and make the "halt phase" an ideal means for defeating aggression quickly at minimum risk for U.S. personnel.

Orincon, San Diego, Calif., brings precision fire control target-tracking capabilities to the Integrated Systems AMSTE team. Alphatech, Burlington, Mass.; Mission Research Corporation, Dayton, Ohio; and Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, N.M., provide technology used in long-duration target tracking. Northrop Grumman Information Technology provides information technology systems to the team.

Northrop Grumman Integrated Systems, headquartered in Dallas, Tex., is a premier aerospace systems integration enterprise. Integrated Systems 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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