updated 10/25/2010 8:15:36 AM ET 2010-10-25T12:15:36

WOODLANDS HILLS, Calif., Oct. 25, 2010 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Northrop Grumman Corporation's (NYSE:NOC) Integrated Avionics System (IAS) and the company's integration support were key elements in the successful completion of Operational Evaluation (OPEVAL) for the U.S. Marine Corps AH-1Z Cobra, its newest attack helicopter system.

OPEVAL, a three-month process of testing the AH-1Z Cobra by operating the helicopters under combat deployment conditions, was conducted in multiple environments emulating real-world scenarios. The successful completion of OPEVAL designates the aircraft suitable for use and marks the final hurdle before full-rate production approval.

The Northrop Grumman IAS onboard the AH-1Z helicopters makes critical mission data available to the pilot and co-pilot on four displays, reducing workload and increasing aircrew situational awareness. The glass cockpit is powered by two Northrop Grumman mission computers, the heart of the IAS, that allow for easy system upgrades as new technology is developed. The mission computers provide centralized control of the IAS, interface with the tactical moving map, and display health monitoring information. The AH-1Z Cobra's IAS features precision targeting and control of the weapons system with enhanced accuracy.

"The successful completion of OPEVAL moves the AH-1Z helicopters one step closer to the field, where our IAS technology is needed," said Ike Song, vice president of situational awareness systems at Northrop Grumman's Navigation Systems Division. "Increased weapons accuracy and improved situational awareness capability will help the Marines be more effective in achieving mission success and safe in the harsh environments they face."

The AH-1Z Cobra helicopters are part of the U.S. Marine Corps H-1 Upgrade Program. The program's goal is to replace AH-1W helicopters with new and remanufactured AH-1Zs which provide significant improvements in commonality, reliability and maintainability in addition to increased functionality. Northrop Grumman is part of the program's industry team, led by Bell Helicopter Textron Inc., the manufacturer of the helicopter, and includes Thales and Lockheed Martin.

The H-1 Upgrade Program offers 84 percent commonality of parts between the AH-1Z and UH-1Y helicopters, including Northrop Grumman's IAS. This commonality reduces lifecycle and training costs and decreases the logistics footprint for both aircraft. A total of 189 new and remanufactured AH-1Z helicopters are anticipated, with deliveries expected to be complete by the end of 2019.

Northrop Grumman Corporation is a 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. Please visit www.northropgrumman.com for more information.

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