EL SEGUNDO, Calif., Feb. 1, 2007 (PRIME NEWSWIRE) -- The German Ministry of Defence (MoD) has awarded a $559 million (Euro 430 million) contract to EuroHawk GmbH, a joint-venture company formed by Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC) and EADS, for the development, test and support of the Euro Hawk(r) unmanned signals intelligence (SIGINT) surveillance and reconnaissance system.

With a wing span larger than a commercial airliner's and an endurance projected at up to 30 hours, the Euro Hawk(r) unmanned aerial system will serve as the German Air Force's high altitude long endurance (HALE) SIGINT system. Under this contract, EuroHawk GmbH will also provide aircraft modifications, mission control and launch and recovery ground segments, flight test and logistics support.

The Euro Hawk(r) is a derivative of the U.S. Air Force RQ-4 Block 20 Global Hawk built by Northrop Grumman, equipped with a new SIGINT mission system developed by EADS. The SIGINT system provides stand-off capability to detect electronic intelligence (ELINT) radar emitters and communications intelligence emitters. EADS will also provide the ground stations that will receive and analyze the data from Euro Hawk(r) as part of an integrated system solution. A joint team will conduct integration and flight test activity in Germany in late 2009.

"The EuroHawk GmbH effort builds upon our longstanding experience in developing persistent intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) systems by bringing together expertise from across industry to meet the capability needs of our customers," said Scott J. Seymour, president of Northrop Grumman's Integrated Systems sector. "This program has been a major collaborative effort and Northrop Grumman is committed to ensuring Euro Hawk(r) is a continued success story in the history of trans-Atlantic cooperation."

EADS and Northrop Grumman initiated their cooperative effort in August 2000 by signing an agreement to jointly develop requirements for a HALE unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) ISR system that would meet the German MoD need for airborne wide-area surveillance and reconnaissance.

"This decision is a further step forward in our trans-Atlantic cooperation. With Euro Hawk(r), the German Air Force will be able to cover its own future reconnaissance requirement with ground breaking technology, thus enabling the German Air Force to assume control of its intelligence activities," said Stefan Zoller, member of the EADS Executive Committee for Defence & Security Systems. "This gained information superiority is a decisive contribution towards improving the safety of our troops in the field. Furthermore, Euro Hawk(r) is convincing proof of how the Bundeswehr is transforming and acquiring network enhanced capabilities. With this project being realized, UAV technology takes a remarkable step forward in Europe."

Delivery of the first demonstrator is scheduled for 2010, with the following four systems scheduled tentatively between 2011 and 2014. The Euro Hawk(r) system will replace the aging fleet of Breguet Atlantic aircraft, which have been in service since 1972.

A bilateral project agreement between the U.S. Air Force and the German MoD was signed in October 2001. The first phase of the project included the operation of the HALE UAV concept, the mission system integration, and the October 2003 flight demonstration program in Nordholz led by the U.S. and German governments and supported by EADS and Northrop Grumman. The six successful flights demonstrated the technical feasibility of using an unmanned platform carrying an ELINT type sensor. The Global Hawk ELINT demo was also the first successful operation of a UAV in controlled European airspace, paving the way for further developments of unmanned flight in Europe and building a great deal of confidence in the Euro Hawk(r) concept.

Formed as a 50-50 joint venture of Northrop Grumman and EADS, EuroHawk GmbH will act as the national prime contractor for the German MoD through the entire lifecycle of the Euro Hawk(r) system. The limited liability company is based in Immenstaad, Germany.

EADS Defence and Security Systems is a system solution provider. It combines military air systems, missile systems, communications and intelligence systems, global security solutions as well as sensor and avionics systems into a single effective network. With revenues of Euro 34.2 billion and 113,000 employees, EADS is a global leader in aerospace, defence and related services.

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:  Cynthia Curiel
          Northrop Grumman Integrated Systems
          +1 (858) 618-4355
          cynthia.curiel@ngc.com
       
          EADS
          Dr. Theodor Benien
          +49 89 6 07-3 28 22
          theodor.benien@eads.com