CLEARFIELD, Utah, Jan. 8, 2007 (PRIME NEWSWIRE) -- The U.S. Air Force, and its industry partner Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC), marked the initial deployment of the first Minuteman III carrying the MK21 reentry vehicle during a ceremony at the end of 2006 at Hill Air Force Base.

Under the Safety Enhanced Reentry Vehicle (SERV) program, Northrop Grumman adapted hardware and electronic equipment on the Minuteman III to accommodate the MK21 reentry vehicle, recently decommissioned from the Peacekeeper force. In addition, a major revision of the MM III software programs was required. The first SERV-modified missile is deployed and on alert at F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Wyo.

"This is a major program achievement that marks the deployment of the safest, most reliable reentry vehicle in the ICBM force," said John Clay, vice president and general manager of Northrop Grumman ICBM Prime Integration Contract. "The SERV program has been a technically challenging effort, and I congratulate our extremely talented team for making this effort such a huge success and delivering to the warfighter a safe and secure system."

The SERV program is a vital ICBM modernization effort that will ensure continued reliability and effectiveness of the weapon system through 2020. Lockheed Martin and Boeing are principal teammates on this program.

In February of 2006, the SERV program completed its third successful flight test, which paved the way for full rate production in March, followed by activation in October. In support of the initial SERV operational deployment, the program also completed the deployment of software revisions at all three missile Wings and delivered the first hardware sets in August 2006. The entire force of 500 Minuteman III missiles is slated to be upgraded with the SERV modifications by 2012.

SERV is one of eight large programs managed by Northrop Grumman's Mission Systems sector as part of the company's 15-year prime integrating contract with the U.S. Air Force to modernize and sustain the nation's Minuteman III land-based strategic arsenal.

Lockheed Martin Corporation, Bethesda, Md., developed the electronic and mechanical hardware that interfaces the reentry vehicle with the rest of the Minuteman III missile. Lockheed Martin's Valley Forge, Pa., facility produces the electrical and mechanical hardware, support equipment and associated logistics support.

The Boeing Company, Chicago, is responsible for modifying flight software, replacing the guidance system and integrating it into the missile.

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:  Marynoele Benson
          Northrop Grumman Mission Systems
          (703) 741-7723
          marynoele.benson@ngc.com