updated 2/2/2011 1:17:50 PM ET 2011-02-02T18:17:50

EL SEGUNDO, Calif., Feb. 2, 2011 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC) has delivered the next installment of its commitment to expand international participation in the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program by signing a long-term JSF parts agreement with advanced materials company Quickstep Technologies, North Coogee, Australia.  

Northrop Grumman is a principal subcontractor on the Lockheed Martin-led (NYSE:LMT) F-35 industry team. Australia is one of nine countries, including the United States, contributing to the funding and production of the fifth generation, multirole F-35 aircraft. 

Under terms of the second sourcing agreement, signed Feb. 2 in Sydney, Quickstep will produce an initial group of composite subassemblies that includes F-35 lower side skins, maintenance access panels and fuel tank covers. 

"We have been working closely with Quickstep since 2010 to help them develop and mature their manufacturing capabilities to reach the high-precision standards required for the F-35," said Ram Ramkumar, director of F-35 international programs for Northrop Grumman's Aerospace Systems sector. "We look forward to their continued progress as a supplier of increasingly complex parts for all three variants of the aircraft."

The delivery of a key test article is planned for November 2011. First deliveries of production parts, which will support Northrop Grumman's production of low-rate initial production lot 5 center fuselages in Palmdale, Calif., are expected in May 2012. 

According to Ramkumar, "Quickstep is expected to eventually produce three major groups of parts for Northrop Grumman – up to 16 different parts in all – ranging from the small, average complexity parts covered under the current agreement, to medium and large parts of increasing complexity, both in terms of their shape and the manufacturing processes required to produce them. Northrop Grumman will continue to provide technical assistance to Quickstep as it expands and improves its manufacturing capabilities to meet the F-35 requirements."

Northrop Grumman is responsible for designing and producing the center fuselage for all three variants of the F-35. The company also designed and produces the aircraft's radar and other key avionics including electro-optical and communications subsystems; develops mission systems and mission-planning software; leads the team's development of pilot and maintenance training system courseware; and manages the team's use, support and maintenance of low-observable technologies.

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: Thomas Henson
         Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems
         (310) 332-2904 office
         thomas.henson@ngc.com

         Ken Beedle (London)
         +44 207 747 1910 (office)
         +44 7787 174092 (cell)
         Ken.beedle@euro.ngc.com

© Copyright 2012, GlobeNewswire, Inc. All Rights Reserved

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