BETHPAGE, N.Y., Feb. 9, 2004 (PRIMEZONE) -- Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC) has activated a new tool, called Virtual Design Environment, that will allow it to reduce the cost and streamline the development of advanced aircraft such as the U.S. Navy's Advanced Hawkeye.

The new capability integrates the company's aircraft design and engineering development facilities in Bethpage, N.Y. with its aircraft modification and production facilities in St. Augustine, Fla. It is the culmination of a three-year effort by the company to develop an integrated product and process design tool for the Advanced Hawkeye early warning and battle management aircraft, and other products.

Northrop Grumman is currently producing two Advanced Hawkeye system development and demonstration aircraft under a $1.9 billion contract awarded in 2003. Initial operational capability for the new aircraft is planned for 2011.

"Our new Virtual Design Environment is an integrated development tool that enables collaboration between engineering, manufacturing, materiel and logistics, as well as our customers and our suppliers," said Robert Klein, vice president of engineering, logistics and technology at the company's Integrated Systems sector. "We're using it to reduce cycle time, improve quality using Lean manufacturing techniques and effectively streamline the execution of current programs such as Advanced Hawkeye."

The integrated approach to system development and production will also play a critical role in Northrop Grumman's success on future programs like the Broad Area Maritime Surveillance System and the Airborne Electronic Attack System, he added.

The Virtual Design Environment gives Northrop Grumman vehicle design teams a three-dimensional, graphics-based digital environment and the integrated tools they need to design both individual components and the most efficient processes for producing and assembling those components. It will allow company engineers, for the first time, to design a product in a digital environment and "assemble" it in a virtual factory before any metal is cut.

Northrop Grumman's Integrated Systems and Information Technology sectors set up a joint program office to develop the Virtual Design Environment. Working with Integrated Systems, Information Technology managed the system architecture and technical risks; developed interfaces to Integrated Systems' internal-proprietary systems; designed, configured, tested and installed the test and production environments; performed integrated functional and systems performance testing; and ensured production readiness of support processes.

Major suppliers of engineering software and support to the effort include: Dassault Systems of America, Woodland Hills, Calif.; Delmia Corporation (a wholly owned subsidiary of Dassault Systems), Auburn Hills, Mich.; INCAT Systems, Seattle, Wash.; and Vistagy, Waltham, Mass.

Northrop Grumman Integrated Systems is a premier aerospace and defense systems integration enterprise. Headquartered in El Segundo, Calif., it designs, develops, produces and supports network-enabled integrated systems and subsystems for government and international customers worldwide. Integrated Systems delivers best-value solutions, products and services that support military and homeland security missions in the areas of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; space access; battle management command & control; and integrated strike warfare.

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  CONTACT:  John Vosilla
          Northrop Grumman Integrated Systems 
          (516) 575-5119