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NORTHROP AND BAE SELECTED FOR AIRLINER DEFENCE SYSTEMS

25 Aug 04. Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC – News)and BAE SYSTEMS were selected by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for Phase II of the Counter-Man Portable Air Defense Systems (Counter-MANPADS) program, which is designed to protect commercial aircraft from attack by ground-based, shoulder-fired missiles.

During the Phase II contract, which is valued at $45 million each , both companies will complete the design, fabrication, installation, flight testing and certification of prototype counter-MANPADS systems for two Northrop Grumman is adapting its directional infrared countermeasure (DIRCM) system, an anti-missile system currently in production and deployed on a variety of military aircraft around the world.

Managed by DHS’s Science and Technology directorate, Phase II is slated to last 18 months, concluding in January 2006. “Countering the potential threat from shoulder-fired missiles demands the most capable, field-proven technologies available,” said Robert Del Boca, vice president of Infrared Countermeasures and Laser Systems for Northrop Grumman’s Electronic Systems sector. “Northrop Grumman is uniquely positioned to offer this world-class proven technology and to do so in an affordable manner.”

“Northrop Grumman is committed to supporting the Department’s fight against low-altitude threats,” said David Zolet, vice president of Homeland Security for Northrop Grumman Corporation. “This program is an integral first step in a layered defense for our national airspace.” Northrop Grumman is supported by two key industry partners on its counter-MANPADS team: Federal Express and Northwest Airlines. Federal Express will provide engineering services for installation, and aircraft modification and certification. Northwest Airlines will provide engineering and technical services to develop a commercially viable equipment set suitable for operation within commercial airframes.

In Phase I, which began in January 2004, Northrop Grumman developed a detailed design and an analysis of the economic, manufacturing and maintenance issues needed to support an anti-missile system that would be effective in the commercial aviation environment.

“The world’s airlines will be watching with interest, it’s not just an American issue,” a BAE spokesman said.

Analysts say installing such systems on U.S. airliners alone could cost $10 billion and that much again annually to maintain, too much for cash-strapped airlines without help from the U.S. government.BAE will take 18 months to design a variant of a system it has already delivered to the U.S. Army, it said in a statement released late on Wednesday.

It said the DHS would assess work by BAE and Northrop before making its recommendation to the U.S. Administration and Congress on whether large-scale deployment of such systems on commercial airliners should be pursued.

BAE is working with partners including American Airlines (NYSE:AMR –
News), Honeywell Aerospace (NYSE:HON – News) and Sargent Fletcher Inc (London:COB.L – News).

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