CLEARFIELD, Utah, July 28, 2004 (PRIMEZONE) -- Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) resumed delivery of the Minuteman III Stage 2 and Stage 3 rocket motors to the U.S. Air Force last month, following a nine-month pause in production when work was transitioned from the Pratt & Whitney facility in San Jose, Calif., to ATK's Bacchus facility in Magna, Utah.
The motors are being manufactured as part of the Minuteman III Propulsion Replacement Program (PRP). The PRP is one of several modernization efforts managed by intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) prime contractor, Northrop Grumman, and is designed to replace aging solid rocket motors in the Minuteman III force with new remanufactured motors.
The transition of work to ATK was prompted by two industrial accidents that occurred in August and September 2003 at the Pratt & Whitney plant where Stage 2 and stage 3 rocket motors had been manufactured. The accidents subsequently delayed production. With support from its Air Force customer, Northrop Grumman worked with ATK and Pratt & Whitney to develop a plan to relocate manufacturing to ATK's facility in Magna and restore production motor deliveries.
"Our ICBM team developed an aggressive schedule to relocate work and qualify the Bacchus facility with minimum impact to the overall ICBM program," said John Clay, Northrop Grumman vice president and general manager for the ICBM program. "The smooth transition of this extremely complicated effort - ahead of schedule - is a tribute to the collaboration with our Air Force customer and Joint Venture teammates, ATK and Pratt & Whitney."
As part of this transition ATK, with the support of Pratt & Whitney, manufactured and tested three rocket motors (two Stage 2 and one Stage 3) to demonstrate their ability to meet the missile's motor performance and manufacturing requirements. The last of these three tests was successfully completed on June 9 at the Arnold Engineering Development Center in Tullahoma, Tenn., clearing the way for delivery of the first ATK-built Stage 2 and Stage 3 motors to the Air Force.
Over the next four months, ATK will increase the production motor delivery rate from two motor sets per month to the full rate target of eight motors sets per month. The company expects to deliver all production motors by April 2009.
Minuteman Stage 1 motors are manufactured by ATK at their facility in Promontory, Utah. Stage 1 motor deliveries were unaffected by the need to move the Stage 2 and 3 motor manufacturing location and have continued uninterrupted.
"Completing qualification and successful delivery of the first motors are key milestones in the recovery of the PRP program," said Col. Rob Fisher, Material Wing Director for ICBMs at Hill Air Force Base. "The Air Force-Industry team completed this milestone ahead of schedule against a recovery plan developed last fall."
ATK Thiokol and Pratt & Whitney's Chemical Systems Division formed a joint venture propulsion team, under contract to Northrop Grumman, to produce the motors. The remanufacturing of the motors includes replacing the aging propellant in the motors and replacing obsolete or environmentally unsafe materials and components.
Northrop Grumman Mission Systems sector is the Air Force's ICBM prime integration contractor charged with maintaining readiness of the United States' ICBM weapon system through 2020. In addition to sustaining and maintaining the force, Northrop Grumman manages more than 10 modernization efforts to maintain viability of our nation's ICBM fleet. This 15-year program, which began in December 1997, is currently valued at $4.5 billion with a total projected value of $6 billion. Northrop Grumman manages a team consisting of four principal teammates and more than 20 subcontractors.
Northrop Grumman Mission Systems, based in Reston, Va., is a global integrator of complex, mission-enabling systems and services for defense, intelligence and civil government markets. The sector's technology leadership and expertise spans areas such as strategic systems, including ICBMs; missile defense; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; command and control; and technical services and training.
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