HUNTSVILLE, Ala., Aug. 27, 2002 (PRIMEZONE) -- The U.S. Air Force and Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC) conducted drop tests July 25 and Aug. 13 that successfully demonstrated the feasibility of releasing a Bat submunition from a Predator unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).

Sponsored by the Air Force's UAV Battlelab, the tests were performed at Eglin Air Force Base's flight test range using a UH-1N helicopter as surrogate for the Predator; an MA-4 rack and carriage system, which has been proposed for use on the Predator; and a Bat UAV ejection tube (BUET).

Two preliminary tests measured the effects of vibration at hover and at 110 knots air speed. The first drop test successfully demonstrated release of the BUET from the MA-4 rack at a nominal Predator air speed of 70 knots. During a second drop test, the successful release of the BUET was repeated, followed by the successful ejection of a Bat simulant from the BUET.

"This test series has shown that the Bat submunition can be integrated rapidly into UAV systems," said William H. Forster, vice president of Land Combat Systems at Northrop Grumman's Electronic Systems sector. "Deployed from a UAV, Bat could provide our armed forces with a quick-reaction capability that minimizes sensor-to-shooter timelines against fleeting targets such as SCUD missile launchers and mobile SAM launchers. We are evaluating different configurations for deploying Bat on Predator and plan to meet with Air Force officials to discuss these alternatives. We are also working with the Army and TRW on using the Hunter UAV to deliver Bats."

According to Maj. David Grilley, chief of Combat Applications at the UAV Battlelab, "We started this initiative to deploy remote ground sensors, but once we realized we had the capability to employ any type of gravity-drop weapon, we worked to expand the flight certification database for application to Predator. The Bat submunition has the right payload size and weight, precision guidance, great range and a generic ejection tube. What impresses me most, however, is Bat's off-axis attack capability."

The baseline Bat, currently in production at Northrop Grumman's Land Combat Systems facility in Huntsville, is an autonomous submunition that uses a combination of passive acoustic and IR sensors to seek, identify and destroy moving armored targets deep in enemy territory.

The P3I Bat, a planned block upgrade, adds advanced millimeter-wave radar and improved imaging IR sensors, providing a co-boresighted, dual-mode RF/IR seeker that works with the baseline acoustic sensors. The new seeker expands Bat's engagement capability to include a wide range of both stationary and moving targets and also improves Bat's performance in adverse weather conditions and against sophisticated countermeasures.

Headquartered in Baltimore, Md., Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems is a world leader in the design, development and manufacture of defense electronics systems including airborne radar systems, navigation systems, electronic warfare systems, precision weapons, airspace management systems, air defense systems, communications systems, space systems, marine systems, oceanic and naval systems, logistics systems, and automation and information systems.

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  CONTACT:  Doug Cantwell
          Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems 
          (410) 765-9332