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Restarting of EA-6B Component Production Line

Navy Newsstand

Story Number: NNS031223-03

Release Date: 12/23/2003 10:50:00 AM

From Naval Air Systems Command Public Affairs,

PATUXENT RIVER, Md. (NNS) -- Shortly after Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) announced the restarting of the Northrop Grumman Integrated Systems EA-6B outer wing panel production line in St. Augustine, Fla, a ceremony was held to commemorate the occasion on Dec. 17.

The production line, which was formerly in Bethpage, N.Y., befire closing in 1987, is expected to produce 54 shipsets. Delivery of the first shipset is scheduled for July 2005. Once completed, the outer wing panels will be installed on Prowlers at fleet sites or at Navy depots.

NAVAIR EA-6B Program Manager Capt. Ken Smolana who was on hand for the ceremony said, "We recently reevaluated our wing fatigue life algorithm with updated information based on tear-downs of worn out wings. The results of this told us we were actually wearing out wings at a much higher rate than previously estimated. This in turn forced us to remove from service a large number of aircraft ahead of schedule to await wing replacement."

Capt. Smolana went on to say, " Northrop's performance and especially the wing production team at St. Augustine have been exceptional. Not only are they producing a quality product, they have accelerated production in an effort to help us quickly return the flyable EA-6B inventory to its previous level. Today's startup of the outer wing panel line is a significant step in our path to recovery."

The EA-6B Prowler is the U.S. military's only electronic attack aircraft. The primary mission of the aircraft is Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses (SEAD) in support of strike aircraft and ground troops by interrupting enemy electronic activity and obtaining tactical electronic intelligence within the combat area. Currently, the EA-6B force is addressing wing fatigue life issues due to the increased utilization of this low density/high demand asset.

"The restart of our production line underscores the importance of the Prowlers to our military and the faith the Navy has in us to successfully restart this production line," said Patricia McMahon, Northrop Grumman Integrated Systems vice president and Electronic Warfare Integrated Product team leader.

In addition to the outer wing panels, Northrop Grumman Integrated Systems is currently producing wing center sections for EA-6B aircraft to meet fleet needs. The 64th wing center section will be delivered December 2003, six months ahead of contract schedule and the St. Augustine production line is ramping up to two wing center sections per month starting January 2004.

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