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Photo Release -- Retired Northrop Grumman Chief Engineer to Receive Prestigious Aerospace Vehicle Design and Development Award

Phil Saunders Drove Many Innovations Used in B-2 Bomber and X-47B Unmanned Aircraft

SAN DIEGO, Oct. 1, 2012 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Former Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC) chief engineer Phil Saunders will be honored by the Society of Aerospace Engineers (SAE) International for a career of distinction in the aerospace industry. Saunders was selected for his innovations that helped fuel the company's successful development of the U.S. Air Force's B-2 stealth bomber and the U.S. Navy's X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System (UCAS).

A photo accompanying this release is available at http://media.globenewswire.com/noc/mediagallery.html?pkgid=14953

SAE plans to present its 2011 Clarence L. ("Kelly") Johnson Aerospace Vehicle Design and Development Award to Saunders during the organization's biennial AeroTech Congress and Exhibition, to be held Sept. 24-26, 2013 in Montreal.

Saunders retired in December 2011 as the chief engineer for Northrop Grumman's Navy UCAS program.

"Phil Saunders helped alter, fundamentally, the course of aviation history," said Paul Meyer, vice president and general manager for Northrop Grumman's Advanced Programs and Technology business area. "His technical innovations on B-2 and X-47B, and his disciplined, no-nonsense leadership style helped redefine the list of 'standard features' for advanced aircraft systems."

Northrop Grumman is the Navy's prime contractor for the UCAS Carrier Demonstration (UCAS-D) program, an effort that will demonstrate in 2013 the ability of a tailless, autonomous unmanned aircraft to operate safely from an aircraft carrier. The company is also the prime contractor for the B-2, the flagship of the nation's long-range strike arsenal and one of the world's most survivable aircraft.

Over the course of his career, Saunders made significant engineering contributions to several advanced air systems.

During 19 years on the B-2 program, he designed the aircraft's Lateral/Directional Control Augmentation System, a set of computer algorithms that maintains the tailless bomber's aerodynamic stability. He also managed the design, development, integration and flight test validation of the B-2's flight control and terrain following-/ terrain-avoidance systems.

Saunders later joined the Navy UCAS team, bringing with him more than three decades of experience with flying wings and tailless bodies; conformal airspeed-measuring systems; software simulations; and highly computerized guidance and flight control systems.

He used this experience to help Northrop Grumman to design, develop and produce the carrier-compatible X-47B. His expertise in stability and control systems helped his team produce an aircraft that can fly itself autonomously with high precision, and identify and respond automatically to any anomalies in its flight-critical subsystems.

Saunders' leadership in software modeling and simulation also allowed the X-47B flight test team to reduce by more than 67 percent (from 49 to 16) the number of flights required to demonstrate and validate the basic flying properties of the X-47B.

Established in 1993, the Clarence L. ("Kelly") Johnson award is presented to individuals who have made significant contributions to the innovative design and development of advanced aircraft and/or spacecraft. It honors the memory and accomplishments of its namesake who created Lockheed Martin's Skunk Works and played a leading role in the design and development of more than 40 advanced aircraft.

SAE International is a global body of scientists, engineers and practitioners that advances self-propelled vehicle and system knowledge in a neutral forum for the benefit of society.

Northrop Grumman is a leading global security company providing innovative systems, products and solutions in aerospace, electronics, information systems, and technical services to government and commercial customers worldwide. Please visit www.northropgrumman.com for more information.

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Phil Saunders
Phil Saunders retired in December 2011 as the chief engineer for Northrop Grumman's Navy Unmanned Combat Air System program. Over the course of his career, he made significant engineering contributions to several advanced air systems, including the B-2 stealth bomber.