MELBOURNE, Fla., Aug. 23, 2007 (PRIME NEWSWIRE) -- Northrop Grumman Corporation's (NYSE:NOC) KC-30 Tanker advanced Aerial Refueling Boom System (ARBS) has passed another key technical milestone with the successful completion of electrostatic discharge tests.

The tests involved an instantaneous electrical charge of 200,000 volts on the boom's nozzle, simulating the arc that could be produced when the ARBS makes contact with a receiver aircraft during in-flight refueling. The evaluations were performed with a fully functional ARBS being developed by Northrop Grumman KC-30 Team member EADS and installed on an A310 demonstrator aircraft.

"The KC-30 Tanker team continues to offer the U.S. Air Force a low-risk tanker because of the investment our allies are making in the development of their A330-based tankers," said Paul Meyer, Northrop Grumman's vice president and general manager of the KC-30 Tanker program. "Offering the Air Force proven technology and a superior, commercially successful aircraft means we will deliver the most capable tanker on time."

Electrostatic build-up can occur on any airplane because of in-flight atmospheric conditions, and high voltage discharges may be produced during aerial refueling when a boom touches its receiver aircraft. The successful ground-based electrostatic tests confirmed the ARBS and its fly-by-wire control system are unaffected by such potential large electrical spikes.

As a result, the A310 demonstrator aircraft is prepared for its next phase of ARBS flight tests, which will involve in-flight contacts and airborne fuel transfers with a full range of receiver aircraft.

The ARBS is the most modern boom in operation today, and delivers a maximum nominal fuel flow rate of 1,200 gallons per minute. It features an automatic load alleviation system that provides a large refueling envelope and enhanced controllability, which greatly aid the boom operator and the receiving aircraft's pilot during refueling operations. The boom's all-electric design significantly reduces traditional failure rates and subsequent down time.

Northrop Grumman's KC-30 Tanker is fitted with a centerline-mounted ARBS and hose and drogue unit, along with two underwing hose and drogue refueling pods. This enables the KC-30 Tanker to refuel a full range of U.S. and NATO military aircraft. The KC-30's hose and drogue system is already flying on U.S., German and Canadian Air Force tankers.

The KC-30 Tanker aircraft is based on the EADS A330 Multi-role Tanker Transport, which was selected to support the air forces of Australia, the United Kingdom and the United Arab Emirates. The first Australian Air Force KC-30B is executing a rigorous flight test program with all refueling systems installed on the aircraft.

The KC-30 Tanker aircraft will be assembled in Mobile, Ala., and employ 25,000 American workers at 230 U.S. companies. It will be built by a world-class industrial team led by Northrop Grumman, and includes EADS North America, General Electric Aviation and Sargent Fletcher.

About the KC-30: Northrop Grumman's KC-30 Tanker carries 45,000 more pounds of fuel than a KC-135 or any competitor, providing a significant boost to the U.S. Air Force's global reach. The KC-30 is also designed to refuel Navy and coalition aircraft, and to serve as a multi-role transport aircraft to move passengers, cargo and medical evacuation patients. The KC-30 incorporates defense systems, precision fly-by-wire technology, and the ability to integrate a militarized communications suite and a global support network.

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:  Randy Belote
          Northrop Grumman Corporation
          (703) 875-8525
          randy.belote@ngc.com
         
          Tim Paynter
          Northrop Grumman Integrated Systems
          (321) 961-1101
          tim.paynter@ngc.com