PROMONTORY, Utah, June 14, 2007 (PRIME NEWSWIRE) -- The Kinetic Energy Interceptors (KEI) program team fired a powerful Stage 1 rocket motor today, marking the third consecutive successful ground-fire test leading up to the program's first booster flight in 2008. Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) is the KEI prime contractor, with Raytheon Company (NYSE: RTN) as the principal subcontractor.

KEI is a land-based missile defense system featuring the U.S. Missile Defense Agency's newest high acceleration booster. Fully deployed, the system will be capable of destroying medium, intermediate and intercontinental ballistic missiles in their boost, ascent and midcourse phases of flight. KEI is focused on booster development leading toward a 2008 booster flight.

"Our commitment to 100 percent mission assurance has led to a sustained string of successes," said Craig Staresinich, vice president and general manager of the Northrop Grumman KEI program. "Through this rigorous testing program and use of proven technologies, we are validating our models, driving down risk and remaining on track for a booster flight test in 2008. We have met every milestone on-cost and on-schedule, a tribute to our team's commitment to meeting President Bush's vision for protecting this nation, its allies and deployed forces from hostile missile attack."

During the test at the Alliant Techsystems (ATK) facility in Promontory, Utah, the first-stage rocket motor ignited properly and fired for a full-duration burn. Initial results from the test matched expectations for performance and integrity. After successfully proving the Stage 1 concept in a September 2006 ground-fire test, the KEI team significantly reduced risk and is now deriving data from each subsequent test to optimize design performance and complete development of the flight configuration motor.

Northrop Grumman is leading a team charged with developing and testing a KEI capability for the U.S. Missile Defense Agency. Raytheon leads the interceptor development work for the KEI program with ATK as its principal subcontractor responsible for performing the Stage 1 and Stage 2 rocket-motor development work. Orbital Sciences is responsible for integrating the booster and preparing for range operations to execute the booster flight in 2008.

"This success is the culmination of a dedicated team committed to delivering high performance interceptor capability with a constant focus on mission assurance," said Chuck Ross, Raytheon KEI vice president. "Innovative approaches to design, process quality and schedule management were key to meeting this important milestone and will also enable future rocket motor test successes leading up to the FY 2008 booster flight test. Raytheon and our teammates are proud to be part of developing this significant capability for the nation, deployed forces and our allies."

Today's test represents the second in a series of five to be conducted of the Stage 1 rocket motor in Promontory. The team has also proven the Stage 2 motor concept and plans four more tests of that motor in Elkton, Md., through 2008. The Northrop Grumman KEI team is nationwide, with major operations in Fair Lakes, Va.; Huntsville, Ala; and San Bernardino, Calif. Principal teammates include Raytheon Company, Tucson, Ariz.; ATK, Promontory, Utah, and Elkton, Md.; Orbital Sciences, Phoenix and Chandler, Ariz.; Honeywell, Tempe, Ariz.; Aerojet, Sacramento, Calif.; Ball Aerospace, Colorado Springs, Colo.; and Kuchera, Johnstown, Pa.

Northrop Grumman Corporation is a $30 billion global defense and technology company whose 122,000 employees provide innovative systems, products, and solutions in information and services, electronics, aerospace and shipbuilding to government and commercial customers worldwide.

  CONTACT:  Janis Lamar 
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