(NOC) Northrop Grumman Wins Air Force Contract

Northrop Grumman Corporation (NOC) has received a firm-fixed-price contract worth $334 million from the U.S. Air Force to provide Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasure (“LAIRCM”) systems and support. The contract, immediately effective, will continue through April 2014.

Per the contract, the company will deliver LAIRCM hardware and provide associated support. The LAIRCM system is an active countermeasure that operates by automatically detecting a missile launch, determining the threat and activating a high-intensity laser-based countermeasure system to track and defeat the missile.

Meanwhile, the company also received a five-year-delivery, indefinite-quantity, post-production support contract from the U.S Air Force for the LITENING targeting pod program. The support contract comprises G4 upgrade kits, updated Operational Flight Programs, and integration and flight tests with the F-16 Block 30, F-16 Block 40/50, A-10C, F-15E, B-52 and B-1 aircrafts.

The LITENING G4 pod targeting and surveillance system provides supreme images with the help of 1K forward-looking infrared (“FLIR”) and 1K charge-coupled device (“CCD”) sensors. Its advanced technique provides for enhanced field of view and greater zoom that aid accurate target identification in the battlefield in comparison to the previous models of the LITENING targeting pods systems.

In February this year the company received two follow-on Low Rate Initial Production contract awards from the U.S. Air Force worth $66 million to provide additional LITENING SE advanced targeting pods.

The trend shows that the company is in various contracts with the U.S. Air Force. Besides, the company’s varied infrared countermeasure systems are installed or are planned for installation on several hundred military aircraft across the U.S. Department of Defense to protect approximately 50 different types of large fixed-wing transports and rotary-wing platforms from infrared missile attacks.

Northrop Grumman is the fourth largest U.S.defense contractor behind The Boeing Company (BA), Lockheed Martin Corporation (LMT) and General Dynamics Corporation (GD) in terms of fiscal 2011 revenue. Our bullish outlook on the company is supported by favorable projected revenue, from diversified streams, an improving balance sheet and an ongoing share repurchase program.

However, the positives are offset by apprehension regarding defense cutbacks on high-cost platform programs, over-exposure to the DoD budget, lower backlog, cost over-runs and reductions in Afghanistan and Iraq operations.

The company presently retains a short-term Zacks #3 Rank (Hold) that corresponds with our long-term Neutral recommendation on the stock.

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