REDONDO BEACH, Calif., Oct. 12, 2006 (PRIMEZONE) -- A new diode-pumped solid-state, next-generation illuminator laser developed by Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC) met all technical performance requirements recently when tests proved that it's the highest power, brightest laser of its kind ever built, according to the company.

The Strategic Illuminator Laser (SILL) demonstrated multi-kilowatt-class average output power, operating at 5 kHz, with outstanding beam quality for a run time of five minutes. These achievements met all the technology goals of the SILL Phase 2 demonstration program, an effort to develop the next generation of illuminator lasers for air and space applications. The SILL program is funded by the U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA), Washington, D.C.

"In addition to our success with SILL, Northrop Grumman has been leading the development and demonstration of complete laser systems," said Alexis Livanos, president of Northrop Grumman's Space Technology sector. "Good beam quality and a long run time are proven hallmarks of our systems."

Illuminator lasers are critical components of all high energy laser weapon systems. They are used in conjunction with tracking sensors to help point the laser weapon at the target. In addition, they are used in conjunction with wavefront sensors to help clean up distortion in the laser beam caused by the atmosphere and other parts of the weapon's optical system so that the beam can be focused to a smaller spot at the target.

The company won the SILL risk reduction, design and demonstration Phase 2 contract in 2004, and in late 2005 it was awarded a Phase 3 contract, which includes the fabrication and test of a brassboard device. The SILL brassboard design shows that it will be significantly smaller and lighter compared with current high-power illuminator systems. It is also designed to withstand environmental temperatures from -50 to +50 degrees Celsius.

Northrop Grumman Space Technology has been developing and demonstrating high-energy lasers for more than 30 years, paving the way for the U.S. to incorporate military-grade lasers across all services, including ships, manned and unmanned aircraft, and ground vehicles.

Northrop Grumman Corporation is a global defense company headquartered in Los Angeles, California. 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 120,000 employees and operations in all 50 states and 25 countries, Northrop Grumman serves U.S. and international military, government and commercial customers.

  Northrop Grumman SILL Fact Sheet

       Strategic Illuminator Laser Program, Phase 2
            Northrop Grumman Space Technology

Northrop Grumman's Design

Northrop Grumman's approach uses multiple gain passes with only two power amplifiers, demonstrating scalability of the phase-conjugated master oscillator power amplifier architecture and the patented conduction-cooled end-pumped amplifier modules.


The Strategic Illuminator Laser (SILL) program is a Missile Defense Agency (MDA) effort to develop advanced illuminator laser technology for future high-performance applications requiring longer detection ranges and reduction in weight and volume for airborne platforms. The SILL program began in April 2003 with a competitive Phase 1 trade study.

Northrop Grumman won the downselect, and the SILL Phase 2 program initiated a significant risk reduction effort designed to demonstrate the technologies necessary to obtain higher power and excellent beam quality simultaneously. Additional work in Phase 2 focused on component ruggedization and packaging designs needed for a compact, lightweight brassboard.

Phase 3 will take these technologies to the next level in the fabrication, integration and test of a deliverable, compact, lightweight brassboard device.

  CONTACT:  Bob Bishop
          Northrop Grumman Space Technology 
          (310) 812-5227
          (310) 567-4919