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Northrop Grumman Delivers First Data-Link Plug-and-Play LITENING Advanced Targeting Pods to U.S. Marine Corps

ROLLING MEADOWS, Ill., Sept. 2, 2005 (PRIMEZONE) -- Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) has delivered to the U.S. Marine Corps 17 "plug-and-play" LITENING Advanced Targeting (AT) pods (used by pilots to identify targets) that utilize any standard data link and video/data recorder to pass data to ground- and air-based users. This plug-and-play technology enables the Marines to adapt their current LITENING pods and data-link capabilities to specific missions without the need for aircraft modifications.

Northrop Grumman's LITENING AT system is a self-contained, multi-sensor laser target-designating and navigation system that enables fighter pilots to detect, acquire, track and identify ground targets for highly accurate delivery of both conventional and precision-guided weapons. LITENING AT features advanced image processing for target identification and coordinate generation; a 640 x 512 pixel forward-looking infrared sensor; charge-coupled device television sensors; a laser spot tracker; an infrared laser marker; an infrared laser designator/range finder; and a C-Band transmitter.

"LITENING AT's new plug-and-play data-link capability is another example of how the system's unique open-architecture design enables us to respond rapidly and affordably to our customers' needs," said Mike Lennon, vice president of targeting and surveillance programs at Northrop Grumman's Defensive Systems Division. "While other targeting pods are slowly moving into the data-link arena-an area that the Marine Corps and Northrop Grumman have pioneered for the last four years-LITENING-equipped Marines will be in the field passing video, imagery and sensor meta-data to ground-based users as well as between a variety of airborne assets."

Lennon added that the introduction of real-time data-link capabilities to the LITENING pod came as a direct result of feedback the company received from its customers during a users' conference it hosts each year at its facility here. "We take the suggestions of our customers very seriously and use them as a guide for future system enhancements and upgrades," said Lennon. "Data-link capability is only one of the many improvements we have instituted in response to the views expressed by 200+ pilots, system maintainers and procurement officers who attend our annual conference."

An additional 95 plug and play datalinks are anticipated to be delivered to the Marine Corps and the active duty and reserve components of the U.S. Air Force by early 2006, bringing the total to 124 datalink equipped LITENING pods.

Later this year, several of the new plug-and-play LITENING AT pods will be used to demonstrate a high-speed, wide-bandwidth, two-way data link that makes use of the advanced information architecture protocol developed by Northrop Grumman's Integrated Systems sector. Northrop Grumman has begun initial demonstrations on the advanced information architecture concept using the E-8C Joint STARS, RQ-4A Global Hawk and various surrogate unmanned aerial vehicles and ground sensors.

Advanced information architecture is an airborne, Internet-like communications architecture that allows "bandwidth-challenged" tactical users to download mission- critical data on demand directly from in-theater intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) platforms. By storing imagery and other critical battlefield information in a network of high-capacity servers located on in-theater airborne ISR and battle-management platforms, advanced information architecture provides a faster, simpler alternative to the bandwidth-intensive process of downloading ISR image data to ground stations based in the U.S. for analysis.

The high-speed data link will provide bi-directional, full-duplex, air-to-ground and ground-to-air encrypted communications all based on proven technology that incorporates network-centric migration paths. By using the data-relay capabilities built into the advanced-information-architecture software, beyond line-of-sight communications will also be possible, leading to a dramatic reduction in the sensor-to-shooter time line.

Northrop Grumman's Defensive Systems Division is a component of Northrop Grumman's Baltimore-based Electronic Systems sector-a world leader in the design, development, and manufacture of defense and commercial electronic systems, including airborne radar, navigation systems, electronic countermeasures, targeting and surveillance systems, precision weapons, airspace management systems, communications systems, space sensors, marine and naval systems, government systems and logistic services.

CONTACT:  Katie Lamb
          Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems 
          (847) 259-9600, x3542
          Katie.Lamb@ngc.com