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Northrop Grumman's High-Energy Laser Systems Have One of the Most Successful Years Ever in 2006

REDONDO BEACH, Calif., Jan. 3, 2007 (PRIME NEWSWIRE) -- Last year will go down as one of the most successful on record for Northrop Grumman Corporation's (NYSE:NOC) high-energy laser systems, which generated the most intense laser beams, the highest power levels, and the longest operating times yet seen in industry.

"By any standard, 2006 was one of the most successful years in the company's history of more than three decades of 'high-energy laser firsts,'" said Alexis Livanos, president of Northrop Grumman's Space Technology sector. "We are blazing new paths and identifying more uses at a record pace for this mature technology."

Mike McVey, vice president of Directed Energy Systems, noted that in addition to making laser weapons more flexible as missions expand, rapid advancements also are making them more affordable. "Laser weapons are becoming much less expensive compared with other solutions for force protection against indirect fire threats. We estimate that accomplishments in 2006 could easily translate into high-energy laser weapons costing one-fourth the total system cost of tactical missiles."

This is a recap of the company's high-energy laser highlights in 2006:

January 2006:

    - Northrop Grumman Space Technology announces that it has been chosen by the U.S. military to develop a solid-state laser powerful enough (100 kW) to accomplish many force protection and strike missions under the Joint High Power Solid State Laser program.
    - The company also announces delivery of the refurbished, high reliability Beacon Illuminator Laser (BILL), which demonstrated its robustness with hundreds of high power firings in 2006, to The Boeing Company, prime contractor for the Airborne Laser.
    - Successful ABL high-power laser tests at the Systems Integration Laboratory at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., produced the required levels of power and run-time necessary to destroy a ballistic missile during its 'boost phase.'

July 2006:

    - Based on proven technology, safety and performance of its legacy system, Skyguard, a ground-based laser air defense system, debuts as a powerful defense against rockets, missiles and mortars.

October 2006:

    - The U.S. Department of Homeland Security selects Skyguard as a possible protection for civil aircraft and commercial airports from the threat of MANPAD-type missiles.
    - The laser optical system for the ABL passed, ahead of schedule, a critical milestone, or Knowledge Point, set by the U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA) as a requirement for continued development of the first flight aircraft.
    - The company introduces Vesta, a compact laser weapon powerful enough to protect fixed assets sites on the ground and precision strike by manned and unmanned aircraft, which demonstrated world- record continuous wave brightness for a solid-state laser.
    - Northrop Grumman announces that the Strategic Illuminator (SILL) Laser developed for MDA achieved a new world record in brightness (power and beam quality) for a continuously pulsed, solid state laser. In addition to advancing high-energy laser brightness to a new level, the SILL system employs advanced materials and packaging techniques to yield a smaller, lighter and more rugged laser compared with predecessors.

Northrop Grumman Space Technology has been a leader in developing and demonstrating high-energy lasers for more than 30 years. The company's 'high-energy laser firsts' include destroying rockets, missiles, mortars and artillery in flight, and successful firings of the first megawatt-class laser built for an airborne environment.

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:  Bob Bishop
          Northrop Grumman Space Technology 
          (310) 812-5227
          (310) 251-0261 (mobile)

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