REDONDO BEACH, Calif., Feb. 5, 2008 (PRIME NEWSWIRE) -- Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC) has received a Missile Defense Agency (MDA) contract for the second phase of a five-and-a-half year program to develop the Advanced Track Illuminator Laser, or ATILL -- a six-kilowatt-class, solid-state, pulsed laser with excellent beam quality for advanced MDA missions.

The entire four-phase program will support MDA and Massachusetts Institute of Technology Lincoln Laboratory (MIT/LL) in building the next generation Cryo Yb:YAG (ytterbium: yttrium aluminum garnet) solid-state laser track illuminator while significantly improving packaging density and electrical efficiency. During Phase 1 of the contract, Northrop Grumman supported the MIT/LL effort with laser system modeling and analysis, performed trade studies and presented options at a conceptual design review in December. Following the 12 months of Phase 2, MDA will down-select to a single industry partner for the remaining two phases. The fourth phase will culminate in 2012 with delivery to the government of a flight-qualifiable brassboard laser system.

"ATILL is the latest example of Northrop Grumman's technological leadership in solid-state laser innovation," said Alexis Livanos, corporate vice president and president of Northrop Grumman's Space Technology sector. "As the industry leader in solid-state high-energy laser development and packaging, Northrop Grumman is uniquely capable of delivering the highest quality product with low risk."

During Phase 1, the Northrop Grumman team conducted a four-month study focusing on system engineering and design trade-offs for the development of a packaged brassboard laser and participated in the technology transfer effort at MIT/LL. Brassboard design analysis and technology transfer with MIT/LL will continue through Phases 2 and 3, with fabrication, integration and testing of the brassboard conducted in Phase 4.

"ATILL is another opportunity to continue our leadership in high power solid-state laser illuminators," said Dan Wildt, vice president of Directed Energy Systems at Northrop Grumman's Space Technology sector. "Our previous experience in developing the ABL Beacon Illuminator and our recent, directly relevant experience on MDA's Strategic Illuminator Laser program demonstrates the technology and packaging capability needed for success on ATILL."

Wildt also noted that Northrop Grumman's expertise in high power solid-state lasers, combined with the advanced capabilities of Northrop Grumman's teammate, Q-Peak Inc., provides an exceptional capability to successfully execute the ATILL program. Q-Peak Inc., located in Bedford, Mass., has built the second most powerful Cryo Yb:YAG laser to date and shares a similar legacy in solid-state experience as Northrop Grumman. Combined, the ATILL team averages 27 years of laser experience. "Northrop Grumman and Q-Peak Inc. are laser technology experts and have proven to be an outstanding team to support MIT/LL and transition the ATILL Breadboard to a packaged Brassboard Laser System," said Wildt.

Northrop Grumman has been a leader in developing and demonstrating high-energy lasers for more than 30 years. An online press kit with more information about Northrop Grumman's high-energy, solid-state laser capabilities is available at

Northrop Grumman Corporation is a $32 billion global defense and technology company whose 120,000 employees provide innovative systems, products, and solutions in information and services, electronics, aerospace and shipbuilding to government and commercial customers worldwide.

  CONTACT:  Erika Raney
          Northrop Grumman Space Technology
          (310) 812-2535