MELBOURNE, Fla., Oct. 7, 2008 -- Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC) flew its new Airborne Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Minefield Detection System (ASTAMIDS) for the first time aboard an unmanned air vehicle. ASTAMIDS, which is in development for the U.S. Army, flew on Northrop Grumman's new, company-owned MQ-8B Fire Scout Vertical Unmanned Air System helicopter, designated as "P6."
The ASTAMIDS-P6 flight took place at an Army test facility on September 12. There were two flights that day. Using a tactical common data link, the company team at the developmental Tactical Ground Segment, a ground-based payload control center, successfully operated the Payload Command and Control and Imagery Data Collection systems in ASTAMIDS while it was airborne.
"ASTAMIDS itself is important because of what it will do to alert our ground combat soldiers of approaching threats," said Bob Klein, vice president of Northrop Grumman Maritime and Tactical Systems integrated product team. "What makes this sensor-vehicle combination so significant is that Fire Scout can carry ASTAMIDS far beyond the point of U.S. ground forces to detect the presence of minefields and sight enemy locations without putting a single soldier at risk."
"In a programmatic sense," said Klein, "we believe ASTAMIDS will make a profound contribution to the Army's coming Brigade Combat Teams, giving them unmatched situational awareness in the remote, asymmetric combat environments they will face."
Northrop Grumman has been flight testing ASTAMIDS for several months aboard a modified U.S. Army UH-1H "Huey" helicopter. Those tests were designed to characterize and measure the performance of the system in an operational type environment.
The ASTAMIDS program, now in system design and development, has an estimated total value of $123 million. The program is being developed for the U.S. Army/PM-CM&EOD/PM-CCS.
ASTAMIDS is part of a growing line of airborne mine detection systems being developed by Northrop Grumman for the military services. The others are the Airborne Laser Mine Detection System (ALMDS) and its mine-destroying counterpart, the Rapid Airborne Mine Clearance System (RAMICS), being developed for the U.S. Navy, and, the Coastal Battlefield Reconnaissance and Analysis (COBRA) system being developed for the U.S. Marine Corps. ALMDS is in low-rate initial production. The others are in development.
Northrop Grumman Corporation is a 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: John A. Vosilla Northrop Grumman Integrated Systems (516) 575-5119 John.Vosilla@ngc.com