Northrop Grumman already is the preeminent
American company in unmanned aerial vehicles, with the Global Hawk
strategic unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) and the Fire Scout vertical
take-off UAV. The Global Hawk has played a critical role in high
altitude reconnaissance in Iraq and Afghanistan, identifying 55 percent
of time-critical targets, such as mobile antiaircraft missiles and
tanks, while flying only 3 percent of the high-altitude reconnaissance
Now there is the potential to apply Global
Hawk’s capabilities to defense of the continental United States,
potentially helping provide surveillance against possible shipborne
missile strikes, according to David Zolet, Northrop Grumman’s vice
president of homeland security. While there is not yet a program to
employ Global Hawk’s capabilities, the Department of Homeland Security
(DHS) has a study underway on the possible use of unmanned aerial
vehicles inhomeland defense. The Department of Defense (DoD) is also
looking at its strategy in homeland security.
Northrop Grumman is applying infrared
technology derived from the AN/AAQ-24(V) NEMESIS Directional Infrared
Countermeasure (DIRCM) system, used to protect C-17 strategic transport
and C-130 transport aircraft, to the protection of civilian airliners.
An aircraft equipped with a DIRCM system can detect an infrared missile
and jam its guidance system with a laser.
DHS selected Northrop Grumman in August for
the 18-month, Phase II of the Counter-Man Portable Air Defense
(MANPADS) system. Under the $45 million contract, Northrop Grumman will
develop, install and flight test systems for Boeing 747 and the MD-11
airliners. BAE Systems, Farnborough, England, was also awarded a $45
million contract as the other finalist to develop an alternative
Should DHS decide to move ahead and equip all
U.S. commercial airliners with a protection system, it has the
potential to be worth billions of dollars to the winning company.
In from the cold
Northrop Grumman, which is a major player in
classified intelligence systems, also is applying those skills in
homeland security. The company won a $337 million task order in April
to design, operate and maintain the DHS’s classified network. In doing
so, it beat teams led by Computer Sciences Corp., El Segundo, Calif.,
and Science Applications International Corp., San Diego, Calif.
Northrop Grumman will connect intelligence
agencies and state and local first responders in a single network. In
all, approximately 600 federal, state and local sites will be linked in
what Northrop Grumman executives believe will provide future network
communications standards for DHS.
Northrop Grumman is also applying its
shipbuilding skills to homeland security. As the lead in shipbuilding
work for the Coast Guard under its Deepwater modernization program, it
is designing a family of cutters.
Northrop Grumman has been building up its
position in chemical and biological detection for homeland security. In
May 2003, it won a $175 million contract to manufacture and integrate
biological-detection equipment at postal service mail-sorting
facilities. It will be the first wide-scale deployment of automated
biological-detection technology for civilian applications. Northrop
Grumman built on that victory by creating a Chem-Bio Defense Technology
Center to further develop detection technologies. While the postal
service system will initially be configured to detect anthrax, Northrop
Grumman is investing in research and development of a ricin detection
In all, Northrop Grumman has more than $500
million of annual work in homeland security spread across the
corporation. To pursue these opportunities, Northrop Grumman’s
Information Technology Sector has been given leadership responsibility.
It brings a broad array of capabilities, including unmanned aerial
vehicles from its Integration Systems sector, shipbuilding from its
Ship Systems sector and chemical/biological weapons detection expertise
from its Electronic Systems sector.
Yet Northrop Grumman’s leadership sees even
more potential for growth than in just providing individual systems for
DHS. With its broad systems integration capabilities and experience,
management sees the potential to act as a lead systems integrator for
homeland security. A lead systems integrator would help develop a long
range plan to ensure that the various technologies and systems
purchased by DHS work well together and provide optimal solutions.
Itis an aspiration that is shared by other
major defense contractors, including the Boeing Co. of Seattle, Wash.,
which is lead systems integrator for the Future Combat System, the
largest DoD lead systems integrator program. The Future Combat System
is the Army’s effort to introduce the technologies of the future.
DHS is at best years away from selecting a
lead systems integrator and may never choose to do so. But if it
selects one, it will undoubtedly spark a tough competition among the
major defense and homeland security prime contractors. HST
Philip Finnegan is director of corporate
analysis at the Teal Group, a firm based in Fairfax, Va., that provides
strategic and market analysis to major corporations.