BALTIMORE, March 29, 2006 (PRIMEZONE) -- Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC), in conjunction with the Office of Naval Research, successfully demonstrated the ability to extend communications range and capability using the RQ-8A Fire Scout vertical take-off and landing tactical unmanned aerial vehicle (VTUAV).

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Testing took place February 13-24 at the U.S. Army's Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona. This event also marked Fire Scout's 200th flight, another milestone toward development of the Navy's VTUAV, which is intended to support the Littoral Combat Ship program.

Testing for the program, called Beyond Line-of-Sight Tactical UAV Communications Relay (BTCR), successfully demonstrated that a tactical UAV can be used to enable over-the-horizon communications relay, allowing ground troops on the move and battlefield commanders to share uninterrupted voice, data and real-time video.

"During a battlefield engagement, ground troops may move faster or farther than the communications equipment will support, facing a potential loss of communications because of distance or rough terrain," said John Featherston Northrop Grumman's BTCR chief engineer.

"For the first time, we were able to use a UAV to relay voice, data and real-time video via PDAs and laptops. This capability greatly extends the distance and speed that ground troops may travel, while maintaining continuous contact with battlefield commanders."

This test provides an airborne extension to the ground-based Command and control On-the-move Network Digital Over-the-horizon Relay (CONDOR), the U.S. Marine Corps answer to current communication problems faced by troops in the field.

Northrop Grumman Corporation is a global defense company headquartered in Los Angeles, Calif. Northrop Grumman provides technologically advanced, innovative products, services and solutions in systems integration, defense electronics, information technology, advanced aircraft, shipbuilding and space technology. With approximately 125,000 employees and operations in all 50 states and 25 countries, Northrop Grumman serves U.S. and international military, government and commercial customers.