BALTIMORE, Jan. 9, 2006 (PRIMEZONE) -- A Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC)-led team has been selected by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to continue development of the handheld isothermal silver standard sensor (HISSS), a portable system used for identifying biological-warfare agents, including bacteria, viruses and toxins.

The HISSS award is the third of a four-phase program, which will culminate with the construction and testing of a prototype system. Phase 1 involved biochemical test development and laboratory proof-of-concept, while Phase 2 demonstrated the tests in a fluidic testbed.

Under this latest one-year contract, Phase 3 will encompass initial fluidic design, system refinement and development of advanced fluidics and sample preparation technology.

"The technologies being developed in the HISSS program lay the groundwork for the next generation of biological detection systems," said John Schmidt, director of the Chemical and Biological Defense Technology Center at Northrop Grumman's Electronic Systems sector. "This convenient, easy-to-use, handheld device will provide military personnel an extremely fast and lightweight sensor system that approaches the sensitivity and accuracy of lab measurements. With its combination of fast response, small size and high accuracy, HISSS will fill a key capability for the U.S. Department of Defense."

As the project lead, Northrop Grumman will provide device design, systems engineering and integration tasks with the work to be performed at the company's Advanced Technology Laboratories in Baltimore.

Other team members include Ionian Technologies, Upland Calif., and Ribomed Biotechnologies, Phoenix, which will provide biochemical test and reagent development; Lucent Technologies, Murray Hill, N.J., which will provide advanced fluidics development; and Keck Graduate Institute in Claremont, Calif., which will provide advanced fluidics and sample preparation development. Global FIA, Fox Island, Wash., and Microchip Biotechnologies, Dublin, Calif., will provide technical and design services.

The program is administered by the DoD's Defense Microelectronics Activity (DMEA), using the Advanced Technology Support Program (ATSP3) contracting vehicle, designed to give government organizations rapid access to state-of-the-art technologies and enable quick turn-around to facilitate technology transformation and improve the operational readiness of DoD systems.

Northrop Grumman's Baltimore-based Electronic Systems sector is a world leader in the design, development and manufacture of defense and commercial electronic systems, including airborne radars, navigation systems, electronic countermeasures, precision weapons, airspace management systems, communications systems, space systems, marine systems, oceanic and naval systems, government systems, and logistics services.