SAN DIEGO, Aug. 21, 2003 (PRIMEZONE) -- The U.S. Navy's RQ-8A Fire Scout vertical takeoff and landing tactical unmanned air vehicle system (UAV), produced by Northrop Grumman Corporation's (NYSE:NOC) Integrated Systems sector, has completed its first flights under control of Raytheon's Tactical Control System (TCS) software. The flights were conducted Aug. 8 at the Navy's Webster Field Annex near Patuxent River, Md.

The tests begin a series of flights designed to verify the TCS's ability to control the Fire Scout air vehicle and payload, provide the air vehicle and payload operator's displays, and disseminate data to the command, control, communications, computers and intelligence (C4I) architecture.

The first three flights lasted a total of 21 minutes and included autonomous engine start, take-off abort, normal take-off, mission abort, normal mission, waypoint navigation, "vector" control of the air vehicle, recovery and landing. No discrepancies were noted during the flight that reached an altitude of 1,000 feet and an air speed of 30 knots.

The TCS software provides three benefits: seamless control of any TCS-compliant UAV system from a TCS-configured Ground Control Station (GCS); standardized graphical user interfaces for operators; and seamless dissemination of payload productions out to the Joint C4I architecture. Fire Scout is the first UAV system to be fully TCS-compliant.

The next major event in the series of test flights for Fire Scout and TCS is scheduled for late August. It will test the Fire Scout system's ability to operate in a shipboard environment. The tests will comprise flight operations from Point Mugu Naval Air Station, Calif., directed by a TCS-configured GCS aboard the USS Denver (LPD-9), operating off the coast of Point Mugu.

The Fire Scout system is in development and low-rate initial production by Northrop Grumman and could be a force multiplier for Navy forces at sea and U.S. Marine Corps forces ashore. The air vehicle can operate at altitudes up to 20,000 feet and provides the capability to watch for threats within 150 nautical miles of the ground control station. The system can direct Navy and Marine weapons accurately to the target with precise target location coordinates or the laser designator.

Northrop Grumman's Electronic Systems sector, headquartered in Baltimore, provides the Fire Scout's payload, which consists of electro-optical and infrared sensors, and a laser designator/range finder.

Northrop Grumman Integrated Systems, headquartered in El Segundo, Calif., is a premier aerospace and defense systems integration enterprise. As one of Northrop Grumman Corporation's seven sectors, it designs, develops, produces and supports network-enabled integrated systems and subsystems for U.S. government, civil and international customers. Integrated Systems delivers best-value solutions, products and services that support military missions in the areas of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; battle management command and control; and integrated strike warfare. Learn more about Northrop Grumman at: .

Raytheon Company's Intelligence and Information Systems (IIS) business in Falls Church, Va., is the prime system integrator for the U.S. Navy's Tactical Control System. IIS is a leader in technology solutions drawing on capabilities in signals, imaging and Geospatial intelligence; air and space-borne command and control; ground engineering support; and weather and environmental data management. Learn more about Raytheon at: .

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          Darci Bushey
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