REDONDO BEACH, Calif., Sept. 17, 2003 (PRIMEZONE) -- Northrop Grumman Corporation's (NYSE:NOC) Space Technology sector will develop the Strategic Illuminator Laser (SILL) for the Missile Defense Agency (MDA), providing a crucial component for systems such as the Airborne Laser (ABL) and future space-based programs.

The MDA chose Space Technology for Phase 2 of the next generation of illuminator laser under an $18 million, 18-month contract managed by the U.S. Air Force. The SILL is a four-kilowatt-class, solid-state, pulsed laser with excellent beam quality.

"SILL is the next step toward the generation of high-power, pulsed illuminator lasers," said Jackie Gish, director of DE technology for the sector. "Because of SILL's high power, excellent beam quality and environmental specifications, it will yield an enhancement over existing illuminators. We are very pleased and excited about being chosen for this important step."

Space Technology performed trade studies and produced a conceptual design for the SILL earlier this year under the contract's phase one. Two other companies also received phase one contracts, but Space Technology was the only one selected for phase two. This phase will demonstrate a full power breadboard and perform the design of the flight-qualifiable laser. A third phase will culminate in 2006 with delivery to the government of a rugged, flight-qualifiable laser with a development path for space applications, such as long-range illumination.

The SILL program builds on Space Technology's legacy of delivered solid-state lasers, including the Beacon Illuminator Laser for the ABL and others for the Air Force and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. The sector delivered a flight-qualified Beacon Illuminator, containing two-kilowatt-class solid-state lasers, to the ABL program in 2002.

This work under the SILL contract complements Space Technology's work on the Joint High Power Solid-State Laser program awarded in December 2002, when the sector won a Joint Technology Office and Air Force contract to develop the high-power, solid-state laser, a program that will result in demonstration at the end of 2004 of a 25-kilowatt electric-powered laser. Northrop Grumman also specializes in fully militarized, lower-power lasers and has produced and fielded more than 25,000 laser systems, including several that have flown in space.

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 layered missile defense capability. The full spectrum of programs includes prime contractor roles for the 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 leading teams pursuing MDA's Kinetic Energy Interceptors program and the Targets and Countermeasures prime program, and 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 MDA'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 directly to MDA.

Northrop Grumman Space Technology has more than 30 years experience in the development of high-energy lasers, both solid-state and chemical.

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  CONTACT:  Bob Bishop
          Northrop Grumman Space Technology 
          (310) 812-5227