ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla., Aug. 3, 2007 (PRIME NEWSWIRE) -- The first E-2D Advanced Hawkeye development aircraft, known as Delta One, built for the U.S. Navy by prime contractor Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC), completed its first flight this afternoon. Northrop Grumman Flight Test Pilot Tom Boutin and U.S. Navy Flight Test Pilot Lt. Drew Ballinger along with Northrop Grumman Flight Test Lead Weapon Systems Operator Zyad Hajo lifted off shortly before 11 a.m. and flew for approximately 1.3 hours.

"It is a big day for all of us, and we're very proud of this latest milestone that helps bring the Navy one step closer to expanding its arsenal of 21st century network-centric warfare and battle management capabilities," said Tom Vice, vice president of Airborne Early Warning and Battle Management Command and Control Programs -- Navy, for Northrop Grumman's Integrated Systems sector following today's flight.

"The E-2D system gives the warfighter expanded battlespace awareness, especially in the area of information operations," Vice said. "The E-2D Advanced Hawkeye delivers battle management, theater air and missile defense, and multiple sensor fusion capabilities in an airborne system. These advances provide warfighters with the necessary situational awareness to compress the time between initial awareness and active engagement."

"The flight today marks the transition from design, development and ground test to a tangible -- an aircraft's demonstration of its capability for the future fleet mission," said Capt. Randy Mahr, NAVAIR Hawkeye program manager. "From the drawing board to today's flight, this has been a complete team effort with the Navy and industry. The team was ready for this mission today. Flying today was an important milestone -- we are one step further along the road to get this needed capability to the warriors who launch in to harm's way and play for keeps."

While the external appearance of the E-2D is similar to the E-2C, the systems are completely redesigned and the capabilities are vastly expanded. At the heart of the aircraft is the new radar, the APY-9, which can "see" smaller targets and more of them at a greater range. The new rotodome contains an electronically scanned array that provides critically important, continuous, 360-degree scanning. This capability allows flight operators to focus the radar on select areas of interest.

Inside the aircraft, Advanced Hawkeye operators will have new radar system workstations, integrated satellite communications capabilities and other cutting-edge tools to better manage the battlespace. An additional new feature of the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye is the state-of-the-art glass cockpit that replaces prior-generation displays and avionics systems. In addition, an advancement introduced in this version allows for one of the two pilots to serve as an additional operator when necessary.

"In late 2001, Northrop Grumman was asked by the U.S. Navy to build a new Hawkeye. Northrop Grumman's goal was to deliver a capability that would be a generational leap forward with new technologies -- those that are more adaptable to changing threats from today's and tomorrow's enemies, and that could protect our nation and its allies well into the middle of the century. Today signals another major milestone for Team Hawkeye," Vice added.

The E-2D Advanced Hawkeye will provide joint U.S. forces and coalition partners' airborne battle management command and control from the sea, in both over-land and over-water environments.

The $408 million pilot production contract for three aircraft was awarded to Northrop Grumman on July 9 and follows the $2 billion System Development and Demonstration (SD&D) contract awarded August 4, 2003. The second SD&D aircraft is scheduled for its first flight later in 2007. Vice said the Navy plans to procure at least 75 E-2D Advanced Hawkeyes, which will all be manufactured at Northrop Grumman's East Coast Aviation Manufacturing Center in St. Augustine, Fla.

Northrop Grumman Corporation is a $30 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:  Dianne Baumert-Moyik
          Northrop Grumman Integrated Systems
          (516) 346-214
          Cell: (516) 754-2645