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Northrop Grumman to Help NASA Define Requirements for Quiet Sonic Boom Research Aircraft

EL SEGUNDO, Calif., July 12, 2005 (PRIMEZONE) -- A Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC)-led team has been selected by NASA to help define requirements for a new aircraft that would be used to test theories about how to reduce the disruptive, window-rattling effects of an aircraft's sonic boom.

The study, one of four awarded under a NASA grant, will build upon sonic boom research Northrop Grumman has been doing since 2000, as part of designing future long-range military aircraft. That research included the historic Shaped Sonic Boom Demonstration flights in August 2003 that validated the theory that modifying an airplane's shape can dramatically lower the intensity of its sonic boom.

"This award represents a significant commitment by NASA to help unravel the mystery of how an aircraft's shape and flight characteristics affect the creation and intensity of sonic booms," said Charles Guthrie, director of advanced capabilities development at the company's Integrated Systems sector. "If NASA decides to build a demonstration aircraft available to support critical flight testing, it would increase the chances that we'll make the breakthrough discovery that could lead to unrestricted supersonic flight over land."

Northrop Grumman's principal teammate for the NASA study is Gulfstream Aerospace, Savannah, Ga., a leading manufacturer of business jet aircraft that has been conducting basic research into sonic-boom suppression for several years.

For the study, Northrop Grumman and Gulfstream Aerospace will develop estimates of how much it would cost and how long it would take to build a demonstration aircraft. The team will also create a conceptual design of what the aircraft would look like. In particular, the team will address the question of whether an existing airplane can be modified to be the quiet-boom demonstrator or whether an entirely new aircraft should be designed and built.

NASA plans to use the results to develop a request for proposals to design and build the aircraft.

For its efforts, the Northrop Grumman team will receive approximately $1.3 million under a NASA grant awarded to American Technology Alliances (AmTech), a non-profit organization that specializes in facilitating and managing collaborative enterprises. Northrop Grumman and Gulfstream are both members of the Super10 Alliance, a consortium of 10 companies organized by AmTech that have agreed to cooperate in advanced supersonic technology.

The 2003 Shaped Sonic Boom Demonstration, which was sponsored jointly by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, Northrop Grumman and NASA, was conducted over the California desert at the NASA Dryden Flight Research Center. It involved back-to-back flights of a Northrop Grumman F-5E fighter jet with a nose and fuselage modified by company engineers, and an unmodified F-5E. A comparison of pressure data from the two sonic booms clearly showed a one-third reduction in the intensity of the boom produced by the modified aircraft.

Northrop Grumman Integrated Systems 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 Hart
          Northrop Grumman Integrated Systems 
          (310) 331-3616
          james.f.hart@ngc.com