HUNTSVILLE, Ala., April 9, 2003 (PRIMEZONE) -- The U.S. Army's new Viper Strike precision munition, supplied by Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC) and dispensed from its Hunter unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), scored seven direct hits in nine attempts against targets in demonstrations conducted March 29 and 30. Targets ranged from compact pickup trucks to multiple rocket and missile launchers to a countermeasured tank.

Co-sponsored by the Army's Precision Fires Rocket and Missile Systems and Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Systems Project Offices, the drops were performed at White Sands Missile Range, N.M. They were intended to validate the concept of the Viper Strike and to demonstrate operational capability of the integrated Hunter and Viper Strike systems.

"Based on a preliminary review of the data, the tests indicate outstanding success," said Emmitt Gibson, vice president for Precision Munitions at Northrop Grumman's Electronic Systems sector. "The demonstration validates the Viper Strike concept and provides the Army with an armed UAV with a lethal precision strike capability."

The Viper Strike, which uses a semiactive laser seeker to find its designated target, has been developed as a derivative of the Bat submunition during a quick-reaction, nine-week program at Northrop Grumman's Land Combat Systems facility at Redstone Arsenal, Huntsville, Ala.

The weapon is intended for operations that require top-down attack, particularly in built-up areas where strict rules of engagement are in force. It requires a "man in the loop" to lase the target, either from the ground in sight of the target or from the Hunter's ground station, which ensures the greatest possible accuracy and minimizes the chances of collateral damage.

During the initial round of tests, four inert munitions carrying flight data recorders were dispensed to verify system performance. For the actual demonstration, nine tactical munitions fitted with live warheads were deployed against a recognized set of simulated enemy targets.

Seven of the nine scored direct hits, rendering their targets tactically inoperable. The remaining two munitions missed their targets by a few feet but still inflicted measurable damage. The causes of these two misses are being analyzed in detail along with the rest of the data.

Land Combat Systems is a unit of Northrop Grumman's Baltimore-based Electronic Systems sector, a world leader in the design, development, and manufacture of defense and commercial electronics systems, including airborne radar systems, navigation systems, electronic warfare systems, precision weapons, airspace management systems, air defense systems, communications systems, space systems, marine systems, oceanic and naval systems, government systems, and logistics services.

  CONTACT: Viper Strike contact: Doug Cantwell
         (410) 765-9332

         Hunter contact: Janis Lamar 
         (703) 345-7046