SAN DIEGO, April 11, 2005 (PRIMEZONE) -- Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC) has conducted the first flight of a new configuration of the U.S. Army's RQ-5A unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) system called the Endurance Hunter (E-Hunter).

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Conducted March 17 at a company flight test facility near Douglas, Ariz., the flight is part of an on-going cooperative effort between Northrop Grumman and the U.S. Army to extend the range, endurance and payload capacity of the Hunter system. Northrop Grumman operated the new UAV under the control of a prototype "One System" ground control station.

The E-Hunter combines the fuselage of the battle-proven Hunter UAV with a new tail assembly and a longer center wing to create a UAV that can fly missions up to 30 hours in length, at altitudes in excess of 20,000 feet.

"We developed E-Hunter and its ground control station as part of a cooperative agreement between Northrop Grumman and the Army," explained Doug Valenzuela, Northrop Grumman's E-Hunter program manager. "E-Hunter combines the internal payload carrying capability of the RQ-5A Hunter with a longer wing and tail booms that can carry a variety of external sensors, communications and weapons payloads. It's also a cost-effective way for the Army to ramp up its UAV capabilities. Using only a field-installable kit, we can convert any of the service's current Hunter UAVs into a higher-performance, longer-endurance UAV."

"The wing and tail assembly used on E-Hunter are identical to those used on Hunter II, Northrop Grumman's offering for the Army's next generation Extended Range/Multi-Purpose UAV program," added Valenzuela.

The goal of the initial flight was to evaluate E-Hunter's controllability and handling characteristics. After several high-speed taxi runs, the air vehicle lifted off at a speed of 47 knots. At an altitude of 2,000 feet, the company's flight operations team conducted a series of controllability tests at 60 knots and 80 knots. After a series of low-approach passes to validate low-speed handling and to visually verify landing gear and arresting hook extension, the air vehicle landed at a speed of approximately 48 knots.

The prototype Army One System ground control station used for the E-Hunter flight was produced by Northrop Grumman with its own funding. The One System approach allows the Army to use the same ground control station to operate and control several types of tactical UAVs.

"With this test flight, we've now demonstrated that we can use One System-like ground control stations to operate Hunter, Hunter II and E-Hunter UAVs," said Valenzuela. "The company plans to conduct additional E-Hunter 'envelope expansion' flights in the near future to demonstrate the UAV's ability to fly at higher altitudes for longer periods of time," he added.

Northrop Grumman is the leading producer of unmanned aircraft systems for the U.S. Department of Defense. Its programs include the U.S. Air Force's RQ-4A Global Hawk; the Army's RQ-5A Hunter; the RQ-8B Fire Scout being developed for Army and U.S. Navy use; and the stealthy X-47 Joint Unmanned Combat Air Systems, currently in development for a joint U.S. Air Force/Navy/DARPA team.

Northrop Grumman Corporation is a global defense company headquartered in Los Angeles, Calif. Northrop Grumman provides technologically advanced, innovative products, services and solutions in systems integration, defense electronics, information technology, advanced aircraft, shipbuilding and space technology. With more than 125,000 employees, and operations in all 50 states and 25 countries, Northrop Grumman serves U.S. and international military, government and commercial customers.


Brooks McKinney, APR
Northrop Grumman Integrated Systems
(310) 331-6610 office
(310) 864-3785 cell