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Northrop Grumman's ASTAMIDS Program Increases Mission Capability

MELBOURNE, Fla., April 18, 2005 (PRIMEZONE) -- Northrop Grumman Corporation's (NYSE:NOC) Airborne Standoff Minefield Detection System (ASTAMIDS) program is being expanded, at the request of the U.S. Army, beyond its initial counter-mine mission to include reconnaissance, surveillance, and target acquisition (RSTA) and target designation applications.

The added capabilities for the RSTA program are valued at an additional $26 million to the $55 million previously awarded to the company.

"Our baseline counter-mine design included some inherent RSTA capability in the original proposal," said Dave Gilbert, ASTAMIDS program manager, Northrop Grumman Integrated Systems. "This program expansion leverages those inherent capabilities with a tracking and designation capability to fulfill both counter-mine and RSTA missions for the U.S. Army."

The ASTAMIDS program is slated to operate on the Army Future Combat System RQ-8B Fire Scout Class IV unmanned aerial vehicle, an unmanned helicopter being developed by Northrop Grumman, and be day or night capable. ASTAMIDS carries an integrated, multi-sensor, electro-optical infrared/multi-spectral imaging payload to detect patterned surface-emplaced mines, patterned recently buried mines and randomly scattered mines. The payload has the capability to detect obstacles, combat vehicles and other combat targets, including camouflaged targets. ASTAMIDS uses the latest quad-prism aperture-splitting technology with the aid of an integrated illuminator and target laser rangefinder and designator. The Army is developing change-detection algorithms, which will be inserted into the Future Combat System program, to address improvised explosive devices and single on-route mines by processing ASTAMIDS imagery.

With only a minor lens modification to the current design, the Army's ASTAMIDS counter-mine RSTA program can also support alternate unmanned aerial vehicle higher-altitude mission applications. This lens modification will add only minimal additional weight to the 75-pound gimbaled payload thereby providing a significant weight savings over today's larger electro-optical infrared gimbaled payloads and providing the user with additional mission options.

"The commonality issue alone is a major benefit across all of U.S. Department of Defense manned and unmanned platform RSTA applications," said Gilbert. "The ASTAMIDS counter-mine RSTA design can support numerous mission areas thereby providing Defense Department life-cycle cost savings with common sensor payloads and common exploitation and processing tools that are an integral part of the ASTAMIDS development program."

ASTAMIDS is a complimentary Future Combat System program and the combined counter-mine-RSTA role requires the support and coordination of the Army's Project Manager, Close Combat Systems Organization, and the Future Combat System Airborne Systems Integrator, Northrop Grumman. The Army's vision to create a multi-mission sensor payload has the potential of supporting emerging RSTA mission areas on multiple platforms for multiple service applications. Inherent in its design is the ability to also support other Defense Department service missions for the U.S. Navy and U.S. Air Force.

Northrop Grumman Integrated Systems has established a Center of Excellence at its Airborne Ground Surveillance & Battle Management Systems in Melbourne, Fla. to develop state-of-the-art airborne counter-mine technologies and is now expanding into the RSTA market area. The company is also developing an active laser imaging detection and ranging sensor system for naval counter-mine missions as well as for terrestrial/topographic mapping, geological data gathering, and shoreline, river and port mapping.

Northrop Grumman Integrated Systems, the prime contractor for four counter-mine programs for the U.S. Army and U.S. Navy, is a premier aerospace and defense systems integration organization. Headquartered in El Segundo, Calif., it designs, develops, produces and supports network-enabled integrated systems and subsystems optimized for use in networks. For its government and civil customers worldwide, Integrated Systems delivers best-value solutions, products and services that support military and homeland defense missions in the areas of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; space access; battle management command and control; and integrated strike warfare.

CONTACT: Jim Stratford
Northrop Grumman Integrated Systems
(321) 726-7526

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