updated 12/6/2010 4:16:37 PM ET 2010-12-06T21:16:37

BETHPAGE, N.Y., Dec. 6, 2010 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Airborne Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Minefield Detection System (ASTAMIDS) demonstrated it can detect simulated improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in a recently completed U.S. Army evaluation of the end to end system. The system was flown on the Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC)-owned MQ-8B Fire Scout unmanned air system.

ASTAMIDS' laser also demonstrated its capability as a target designator for Hellfire missiles: in three missile firings, all missiles made direct hits on their targets.

In addition to detecting simulated IEDS, ASTAMIDS streaming telemetry data was collected, analyzed and processed on the ground using the new ASTAMIDS Ground Exploitation Station (AGES) processing equipment and software. AGES operators were able to identify target locations in near real-time.

"The fundamental goal for ASTAMIDS and all our airborne mine countermeasures systems is to get the soldier, Marine, sailor and airman out of harm's way," said Dan Chang, Northrop Grumman vice president of Maritime and Tactical Systems. "These tests proved we've achieved our goal with ASTAMIDS. We can identify ground threats and deliver targeting-quality data to adjacent war fighters to destroy the threats and do that in near real time.  ASTAMIDS, we believe, is ready to save lives."

A lightweight, multi-capability sensor, ASTAMIDS will provide the Army with wide-ranging reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition capability in addition to its IED/minefield detection role. The ASTAMIDS airborne payload is a gimbaled, multi-spectral, electro-optical and infrared imaging sensor designed to be flown on both manned and unmanned aircraft. ASTAMIDS detects, locates and identifies ground targets, minefields, obstacles and IEDs, determines ranges to ground targets, and, as proven in the tests, designates targets for attack by laser-guided munitions.

ASTAMIDS and AGES can provide warfighters with actionable intelligence minutes after a specific area is analyzed, a capability critical for conducting successful counter-IED missions.

In this series of tests –a combination of 12 daytime and nighttime flights in September – ASTAMIDS flew over target areas in order to demonstrate the system's C-IED nadir step stare capability, off-nadir road following capabilities, and large area precision mapping capabilities.  ASTAMIDS operational availability was 100% for all scheduled flights. In total, ASTAMIDS has flown over 250 hours in tests and demonstrations aboard the Army UH-1 and the Northrop Grumman owned MQ-8B aircraft.

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.

CONTACT:  John A. Vosilla
          Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems
          (516) 575-5119
          John.Vosilla@ngc.com

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