updated 9/2/2010 7:46:02 AM ET 2010-09-02T11:46:02

MOSS POINT, Miss., Sept. 1, 2010 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC) and U.S. Navy officials celebrated the start of the first MQ-4 Broad Area Maritime Surveillance Unmanned Aircraft System (BAMS UAS) fuselage at the company's Moss Point, Miss. manufacturing facility today.

Construction of the first BAMS UAS aircraft introduces another variant of Northrop Grumman's RQ-4 Global Hawk High Altitude, Long Endurance (HALE) unmanned aircraft system platform.

"We are no longer a paper tiger as we begin construction on the jig load today," said Capt. Bob Dishman, BAMS UAS program manager, during the event. "As we continue with the airframe critical design review, we will be focusing on the production of this hardware. Our goal is to continue making early design decisions that will allow us to maintain schedule and deliver this capability to the warfighter as quickly as possible."

"With the start of this first BAMS UAS fuselage, Northrop Grumman renews its ongoing commitment to the U.S. Navy to provide our sailors with an unprecedented capability to deliver world-wide, wide-area, persistent, maritime ISR data in real-time," said Steve Enewold, Northrop Grumman vice president for BAMS UAS.

"The strong relationship we've enjoyed with the Navy on this program has been instrumental in its successes," said Enewold. "Facing our challenges openly as a team continues to be critical as we move the program forward."

The Northrop Grumman BAMS UAS is a multi-mission maritime intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) system that will support a variety of missions while operating independently or in direct collaboration with fleet assets. The BAMS UAS will be able to provide a continuous on-station presence while conducting open-ocean and littoral surveillance of targets. When operational, BAMS will play a key role in providing commanders with a persistent, reliable picture of surface threats, covering vast areas of open-ocean and littoral regions, minimizing the need to utilize other manned assets to execute surveillance and reconnaissance tasks.

The BAMS UAS program is managed by the U.S. Navy's Program Executive Office, Unmanned Aviation and Strike Weapons' (PEO U&W) Persistent Maritime Unmanned Aircraft Systems Program Office (PMA-262), located at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md.

BAMS UAS is the latest addition to a growing family of unmanned systems developed by Northrop Grumman. The BAMS UAS system builds on the company's extensive experience with autonomous flight control that includes thousands of flight hours by the combat-proven RQ-4 Global Hawk, the MQ-5B Hunter, the MQ-8 Fire Scout vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) tactical unmanned system ─ the first completely autonomous VTOL aircraft to land aboard a Navy vessel underway ─ and the X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System, the first unmanned air vehicle scheduled to perform carrier landings.

Northrop Grumman Corporation is a leading global security company whose 120,000 employees provide innovative systems, products, and solutions in aerospace, electronics, information systems, shipbuilding and technical services to government and commercial customers worldwide. Please visit www.northropgrumman.com for more information.

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