updated 11/18/2010 8:15:49 AM ET 2010-11-18T13:15:49

LINTHICUM, Md., Nov. 18, 2010 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has awarded Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC) a contract to begin field testing a new generation of autonomous biodetection instruments as part of the BioWatch Gen-3 program.

Northrop Grumman was awarded the $8.4 million task order under the BioWatch Gen-3 System Performance Demonstration Contract. The total potential value of the contract is $37 million over three years.

Northrop Grumman will test 12 of the Next Gen Automated Detection System (NG-ADS) units in outdoor and indoor locations in a major U.S. city for several months to determine the readiness of the systems for future deployment. The company will provide autonomous biodetection equipment and technical support, including the operation and maintenance of the units during the course of the field test. 

"The NG-ADS technology has the potential to significantly improve the nation's ability to quickly detect and respond to a bioterrorism event," said Dave Tilles, director of Homeland Security and CBRNE defense programs for the Advanced Concepts & Technologies Division at Northrop Grumman's Electronic Systems sector. "This effort builds on the company's work to support our customers as they enhance the country's defenses against potentially catastrophic threats such as bioterrorism."

Operating 24 hours per day, 365 days per year, the biodetectors represent a key technological component of Northrop Grumman's candidate BioWatch Gen-3 system. BioWatch Gen-3 is envisioned by DHS as a fully autonomous network of bio-detectors located in population centers around the U.S. that will continuously monitor the air for agents of biological concern. By rapidly identifying bio-threats, Northrop Grumman's candidate biodetection systems provide an early warning capability that a biological incident has occurred. This warning provides an opportunity for the nation's public health and safety officials to reduce exposure, distribute medication sooner and proactively manage the response to a bio-threat.

Northrop Grumman established its leadership in biodetection technology by successfully developing and deploying a national network of Biohazard Detection Systems (BDS) for the U.S. Postal Service.  The BDS collects and analyzes air samples from mail-sorting systems using polymerase chain reaction technology to detect trace amounts of DNA from biological agents. The company intends to leverage its biodetection systems experience and expertise gained in support of the U.S. Postal Service for the BioWatch program.

The Northrop Grumman BioWatch team includes Luminex Corporation, Austin, Texas; Research International, Monroe, Wash.; and Global FIA, Inc., Fox Island, Wash.

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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