Northrop Grumman Corp., one of L.A.'s biggest companies, earns $30 billion a year in revenue, but their run of new contracts lately has been impressive even by its lofty standards.


The aerospace giant secured five separate deals to begin the month that could be worth close to $2 billion combined. The headliner of the bunch is a six-year, $636 million contract to develop unmanned combat aircraft for the U.S. Navy that can be launched from an aircraft carrier a program known as the Unmanned Combat Air System Carrier Demonstration.


"The UCAS-D award is the culmination of several years of effort with the Navy," said Gary Ervin, vice president of Northrop's Integrated Systems Western Region, in a prepared statement.


Under the contract, Northrop will build two X-47B aircraft, which will be assembled in their Palmdale facility. The aircraft are scheduled to begin test flights in 2009, with the first sea tests in 2011.


Northrop also announced last week that the Coast Guard has awarded a $592 million contract to Integrated Coast Guard Systems, a joint venture between it and Lockheed Martin Corp. The contract covers the completion of two ships already under construction as well as an order for a third ship.


In other news, Northrop announced it is one of eight companies selected by the State Department to provide security support services for the department's computer systems. The companies, which include El Segundo information technology services provider Computer Sciences Corp., will be competing for $710 million.


Neither Northrop nor Computer Sciences has disclosed its initial contract value.


Finally, Northrop announced a pair of deals with the U.S. Army: a $37 million contract to provide training to troops at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., and a $91 million order for laser devices.


RFID Developers Join Forces

In its push to make its supply chain management technology a warehouse standard, Avery Dennison Corp. announced last week it is teaming with a logistics optimization company to improve its radio frequency identification systems and provide a more complete, seamless system for customers.


Under the agreement, the Pasadena label and office supply manufacturer will provide the RFID hardware, including printers and encoders, and Waukesha, Wisc.-based RedPrairie Corp. will provide related software to help customers improve their inventory tracking and management procedures.


RFID tags are thin labels with embedded chips that allow products to be tracked wirelessly without a barcode. Companies can scan the labels with electronic readers and upload the data to computers, allowing easier inventory tracking.


Avery said it has already secured a deal to supply the systems to "a leading pharmaceutical supplier," but would not disclose its identity.


Acoustic Agreement

The city's oldest company, known primarily as a manufacturer of aircraft parts, announced this month it has secured what could be a substantial contract in a slightly different field.


Ducommun Inc. won a contract this month with the Army Space and Missile Defense Command to develop acoustic technology that will be used for military surveillance purposes.


The initial contract is valued at $2.1 million, but if all options are exercised, the total amount could top $42 million, which would be a significant boost for the company, which reported $348 million in annual revenues last year.


The contract continues a growth trend Ducommun has been on for a number of years with revenues up about 300 percent in the past decade.


New Aircraft Leader

Aerovironment Inc., a Monrovia maker of unmanned aircraft, announced it has appointed Navy Rear Admiral Daniel Stone as vice president of its Unmanned Aircraft Systems logistics operations.


In this position, Stone will provide customer support for all of the company's small unmanned planes, including its Raven, Wasp and Puma models.


Stone, who most recently held the title of commander of the Naval Supply Systems Command, has served in the Navy for more than 20 years.


Aerovironment, founded by aviation pioneer Paul MacCready, manufactures a variety of hand-launched unmanned aircraft that can be used on the battlefield for surveillance purposes.


The company generates about 80 percent of its $173 million in annual revenue from unmanned military aircraft and has garnered contracts of up to 2,000 units.


Staff reporter Richard Clough can be reached at (323) 549-5225, ext. 251, or at rclough@labusinessjournal.com .

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