AMITYVILLE, N.Y., Feb. 5, 2008 (PRIME NEWSWIRE) -- Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC) has begun production of major structural components for the first F/A-18F Super Hornet strike fighter aircraft for the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF).

On Feb. 5, GKN Aerospace-Monitor, a premier supplier to Northrop Grumman, began machining the first wing bulkhead, one of three titanium bulkheads that hold the F/A-18 wings in place. The government of Australia is purchasing 24 F/A-18Fs from the United States in the first international procurement of the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet.

Northrop Grumman is principal subcontractor to The Boeing Company on the F/A-18 program. The wing bulkheads will be shipped to Northrop Grumman's state-of-the-art production facility in El Segundo, Calif., where the company produces the F/A-18E/F's center/aft fuselage section and twin vertical tails and integrates all associated subsystems. Northrop Grumman expects to begin assembling the first Super Hornet fuselage shipset for Australia in late March.

"This marks the beginning of a production process that will deliver unquestionable quality in a frontline aircraft to the Royal Australian Air Force," said George Vardoulakis, vice president of F/A-18 Programs for Northrop Grumman's Integrated Systems sector. "Our suppliers have always been an essential part of the Super Hornet industry team, and their outstanding performance is a key element of our success."

Bob Gower, vice president of F/A-18 and EA-18 Programs at Boeing Integrated Defense Systems, said starting structural component construction was the beginning of a process that would meet the requirements of the RAAF while delivering proven value and combat capability. "As production begins on the RAAF Super Hornets, Boeing and the entire Hornet Industry Team will continue our proven track record of delivering Super Hornets on schedule and within budget, while continuing to outdistance the threat," he said.

The F/A-18E/F is the U.S. Navy's combat-proven strike fighter with built-in versatility. Its suite of integrated and networked systems provides enhanced interoperability, total force support for the combatant commander and for the troops on the ground. The F/A-18E/F entered service with the U.S. Navy in 1999, and the Navy is expected to acquire a minimum of 460 Super Hornets through 2012.

"GKN Aerospace is proud to be a member of the Australian F/A-18F production team," said Jim Gibson, vice president of sales and marketing for GKN Aerospace-Aerostructures North America. "We are fully committed to meeting our customer's requirements and providing the highest quality assemblies."

The Super Hornet industry team includes Boeing, Northrop Grumman, GE Aircraft Engines, Raytheon and more than 1,800 suppliers in the United States and Canada.

In addition to GKN Aerospace-Monitor, Northrop Grumman's F/A-18 suppliers on Long Island are Air Industries Machining (Bayshore, N.Y.) and Ellanef Manufacturing (Corona). Including other programs, Northrop Grumman works with more than 75 companies on Long Island.

GKN Aerospace-Monitor has distinguished itself as a premier supplier of complex titanium and aluminum airframe components and assemblies, having a half-century of experience serving commercial and defense customers worldwide.

Northrop Grumman Corporation is a $32 billion global defense and technology company whose 120,000 employees provide innovative systems, products, and solutions in information and services, electronics, aerospace and shipbuilding to government and commercial customers worldwide.

  CONTACT:  Jim Hart
          (310) 331-3616

          Ken Beedle (London)
          +44 0207 747 1910
          +44 07787 174092