BALTIMORE, Jan. 13, 2006 (PRIMEZONE) -- A Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC)-led team has been selected by the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) to begin a design of a 40-megawatt (MW) high-temperature superconductor (HTS) generator intended to provide a smaller, lighter and quieter main power source for future surface combatants.

Under this initial nine-month contract, Northrop Grumman Marine Systems, teamed with American Superconductor Corporation (Nasdaq:AMSC), will complete a concept design and explore different configurations of the HTS generator while assessing the impact on generator characteristics associated with voltage, phase-count, pole-count and cooling selection. The Navy has an option to exercise an additional 3-year contract worth $3.9 million to continue the trade studies that will help evaluate differences from conventional generator designs while validating weight, size, acoustic performance and cost for a 40-MW high-temperature superconductor generator.

"High-power weapon and sensor systems demand increased power," said Carol Armstrong, deputy vice president for Northrop Grumman's Marine Systems business unit. "As the U.S. Navy transitions to an all-electric surface ship, superconductivity will be a key enabling technology for achieving these power density goals."

"Conventional generators are heavy, large and noisy," Armstrong added. "HTS generators can be at least half the size and weight of currently available generators of equal rating, while providing low-noise acoustic signatures and increased system stability."

As the program lead, Northrop Grumman will provide trade studies, generator concept design, main turbine generator concept design, systems engineering, systems modeling and integration tasks with the work performed at the company's Marine Systems facility in Sunnyvale, Calif.

American Superconductor based in Westborough, Mass., will provide trade studies, determine the electromagnetic parameters for the generator concept design, study superconducting materials, and provide the rotor, exciter and cryogenic systems concept design for the generator.

"HTS technology is attracting strong attention for a broad range of military and commercial applications," said Greg Yurek, CEO of American Superconductor. "In addition to future U.S. Navy generators, HTS wire is currently powering ship propulsion motors, electric grid power cables, synchronous condensers and specialty magnets. We value the opportunity to work once more with our strategic alliance partner, Northrop Grumman, in developing a key component of the Navy's integrated power systems for its future all-electric ships."

American Superconductor Corporation (AMSC) is the world's principal vendor of high temperature superconductor (HTS) wire and large rotating superconductor machinery, and it is a world-leading supplier of dynamic reactive power grid stabilization products. AMSC's HTS wire and power electronic converters are at the core of a broad range of new electricity transmission and distribution, transportation, medical and industrial processing applications, including dynamic reactive power grid stabilization solutions, large ship propulsion motors and generators, smart, controllable, superconductor power cables and advanced defense systems.

Northrop Grumman's Marine Systems unit, based in Sunnyvale, is part of the company's Baltimore-based Electronic Systems Sector, 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.