EL SEGUNDO, Calif., June 29, 2004 (PRIMEZONE) -- On July 1, Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC) will begin assembling the U.S. Navy's first EA-18G aircraft, the service's next-generation electronic attack aircraft due to begin replacing the venerable EA-6B Prowler aircraft by the end of the decade. The milestone comes just six months after EA-18G prime contractor Boeing began the EA-18G program's system development and demonstration (SDD) phase.
Mechanics from Northrop Grumman's Integrated Systems sector will begin assembling the first of two SDD contract test EA-18Gs by loading the aircraft's first bulkhead components into place on the company's F/A-18 production line in El Segundo, where major portions of the EA-18G will also be built.
The EA-18G is a variant of the combat-proven F/A-18 Super Hornet aircraft that Boeing and Northrop Grumman currently build for the Navy. Like the Prowler, the EA-18G will perform surveillance and electronic jamming of enemy threat radars and communications nets. It features a new, high-performance electronic attack suite based on the Increased Capability (ICAP) III system developed by Northrop Grumman for the Prowler.
As Boeing's principal subcontractor on the EA-18 program, Integrated Systems will produce and integrate the aircraft's center/aft fuselage and all associated subsystems at its aircraft manufacturing facility in El Segundo. Under a separate contract with Boeing, the sector will also assemble and integrate the ICAP III-based electronic attack subsystem.
"Electronic warfare has become an essential, high demand tool for protecting U.S. and allied forces engaged in the global war on terrorism, a capability provided day-in, day-out by the Navy's fleet of EA-6B Prowlers," said Patricia McMahon, Northrop Grumman's vice president for electronic warfare programs. "When the ICAP-III-based EA-18G enters service, it will become the most powerful weapon yet in the Navy's electronic warfare tool kit."
ICAP III uses a technology called selective-reactive jamming to make it more effective than jammers currently in service. Current Prowlers jam radar by transmitting electronic signals over broad frequency ranges to "blind" adversary radars operating within each range. By contrast, the EA-18G will use software to rapidly focus its jamming energy on any frequency band being used by enemy surface-to-air missile system radars, making it particularly effective against frequency-agile radar threats.
The ICAP III system also features a geolocation targeting capability that allows it to find and target radars and other electronic emitters.
"The production start-up for the first EA-18G aircraft is further evidence of the Hornet industry team's commitment to deliver on its promises," said Chris Chadwick, Boeing's vice president for the F/A-18. "Just six months after the system development and demonstration contract award, our team is starting production on the center/aft fuselage for the first EA-18G test aircraft. Under cost, under weight, ahead of schedule, meeting all technical requirements--that's our promise to the U.S. Navy."
Northrop Grumman expects to deliver the first EA-18G fuselage shipset to Boeing in March 2005. This EA-18G will be the first of two test aircraft produced under a five-year Navy system development and demonstration contract that covers all laboratory, ground and flight -testing. The EA-18G is expected to enter initial operational capability in 2009. The Navy's current plan is to buy 90 EA-18Gs. The Northrop Grumman-built Prowler is expected to remain in service until 2015.
Northrop Grumman Integrated Systems is a premier aerospace and defense systems integration organization. Headquartered in El Segundo, Calif., it designs, develops, produces and supports network-enabled integrated systems and subsystems optimized for use on networks. For its government and civil customers worldwide, Integrated Systems delivers best-value solutions, products and services that support military and homeland defense missions in the areas of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; space access; battle management command and control; and integrated strike warfare.
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