SAN DIEGO, Dec. 12, 2001 (PRIMEZONE) -- Northrop Grumman Corporation's (NYSE:NOC) Integrated Systems sector successfully conducted a flight test on Dec. 11 of the Miniature Air Launch Interceptor (MALI) at the Naval Air Weapons Division, China Lake, Calif. The interceptor is designed to thwart cruise missiles.

The flight was the first subsonic free flight test of the MALI using a new processor, the AIMS-II computer system that includes a low-cost communications data link for off-board guidance, as well as a built-in inertial measurement unit. The Hamilton Sundstrand TJ-50 Engine powered the subsonic version of the MALI vehicle in Tuesday's flight.

MALI is funded and managed under Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's (DARPA) Tactical Technology Office. It is a derivative of the U.S. Air Force ADM-160A Miniature Air Launched Decoy (MALD) also in development by Northrop Grumman Integrated Systems.

"The MALI program utilizes miniature vehicle technology developed in the DARPA/U.S. Air Force MALD program and brings it into a new mission area of cruise missile defense. The MALI program makes use of similar low-cost commercial off-the-shelf hardware found in MALD to produce a very low-cost, supersonic, cruise missile interceptor," said Mark Gamache, MALI program manager for Northrop Grumman.

The next flight test scheduled for early next year will integrate all major components of the MALI system including the MALI supersonic airframe and Hamilton Sundstrand TJ-50M, and the AIMS II computer system. The TJ-50M engine will enable supersonic flight of the MALI, while the AIMS II will facilitate uplink of off-board target data, flight control of the vehicle, and telemetry of flight test data.

Two subsonic MALI flight tests were conducted in November, also at China Lake. Both flights were flown on a BAE-operated F-4 aircraft for approximately one hour and flew the missile up to altitudes of 18,000 feet and Mach 0.9. Northrop Grumman's effort on the MALI program is led by Integrated Systems' Air Combat Systems business area at its Unmanned Systems unit in San Diego. The company's work leverages its systems integration capability, as well as advanced technologies derived from extensive experience in the design and development of numerous aerial targets and other advanced aircraft.

Northrop Grumman Integrated Systems, based in Dallas, Tex., is a premier aerospace systems integration enterprise. It has the capabilities to design, develop, integrate, produce and support complete aircraft systems, as well as airframe subsystems, for airborne surveillance and battle management, early warning, airborne electronic warfare and air combat missions. It is also integrating these capabilities for emerging network-centric warfare concepts.

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