Northrop Grumman Company History Timeline


1939: Jack Northrop forms Northrop Aircraft Company, beginning work on a "flying wing" bomber.

Northrop Grumman was founded by Jack Northrop founded in 1939 and is headquartered in Falls Church, VA.“


In 1940 the company flew its first experimental flying wing, designated the N-1M.


Two years later Northrop reestablished his company as Northrop Aircraft, Inc., which he directed until his retirement in 1952.


1958: Northrop Aircraft changes its name to Northrop Corporation.

In 1958 the name of the company was changed to the Northrop Corporation, and the following year Thomas V. Jones took over as president.

In 1958 Grumman unveiled the world's first business jet, the Gulfstream I, quickly selling 200 of them.


O'Brien's replacement was Renso L. Caporali, a Grumman employee since 1959, who began steering the embattled company in a positive direction.


In 1960 Grumman's cofounder Leon Swirbul died.


Grumman created a subsidiary in 1962 called Grumman Allied.


1969: Grumman Aircraft changes its name to Grumman Corporation.


Grumman's workers mobilized an enthusiastic demonstration of support for their company's resistance to LTV. Leroy Grumman, who retired from the company in 1972, raised employee morale when he voiced his support of the opposition to the LTV takeover attempt.


The twin-engine, variable-wing aircraft, which entered service in 1973, became the West’s most advanced and costliest fighter of the time.


John Cocks Bierwirth, a former naval officer, became Grumman's chairman and chief executive officer in 1976.


In 1978, Grumman acquired the curiously named Flxible bus division from Rohr Industries.


1981: A United States court of appeals blocks an attempted hostile takeover of Grumman by LTV Corporation.

In 1981 it received a United States government contract to build the B-2 Spirit stealth bomber, based on John Northrop’s flying-wing concept.


Grumman's losses in this venture approached $200 million before the entire division was sold to General Automotive in 1983 for $41 million.


The two companies brought legal action against each other, charging violation of their "teaming agreement," one of the first major competitor partnerships since World War II. In April 1985, the court settled in favor of Northrop and awarded the company $50 million.


In 1988 the company named a new chief executive officer, John O'Brien, whose selection augured a return to more profitable days.


After Jones's departure, Kent Kresa, a former technology director and engineer, became Northrop's chief executive officer, assuming his post in January 1990.

O'Brien later became chairman but resigned in 1990 amid allegations of illegal activities.


Caporali thus oversaw one of Grumman's few success stories in the past decade when the company's work on the Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (JSTARS) program met with high praise in the Persian Gulf in 1991.


Except for the 1992 acquisition of LTV Corp.'s Vought Aircraft Co. in a joint venture with the Carlyle Group, Northrop failed to secure a more viable and stable future for itself in the years following the loss of the AFT project.

In 1992 Grumman derived roughly 90 percent of its $3.5 billion in revenues from the government, an alarming percentage for a market sector experiencing little growth.


In April 1994, Northrop absorbed Grumman, making the combination a weak third in the industry behind Lockheed and McDonnell Douglas, but a stronger, more diversified organization, nevertheless.

Although Grumman could not expect to garner any profit from its involvement with the JSTARS project until 1994, the success of the project, triumphantly hailed by General Norman Schwarzkopf, was a public relations boon for a company plagued by scandals and misfortune.

In 1994, Northrop Aircraft bought Grumman Aerospace, which built the Apollo Lunar Module to create Northrop Grumman (NG) at a cost of $2.1 billion.


1997: Northrop Grumman agrees to be acquired by Lockheed Martin for $11.6 billion; Logicon, a leading provider of defense information technology and battlefield management systems, is acquired.


In the aftermath of this latest turn of events and in an effort to survive as an independent company, Northrop Grumman launched a two-year restructuring program later in 1998 that would eliminate 10,500 jobs in its defense and aircraft operations and add 2,500 employees to its Logicon subsidiary.

In 1998, a merger between Northrop Grumman and competitor Lockheed Martin was considered but abandoned after resistance from the Department of Defense and Department of Justice.


On March 19, 1999, Northrop Grumman announced to restate its fourth-quarter results downward to a net loss because of problems related to its dealings with start-up satellite launch company Kistler Aerospace Corp.

In 1999 the company purchased the information systems division of California Microwave, Inc., which was involved in supporting communications and intelligence systems of the United States Department of Defense.

In 1999, the company acquired Teledyne Ryan, developer of surveillance systems and unmanned aircraft, California Microwave, Inc., and the Data Procurement Corporation.


In 2000, NG acquired Federal Data Corporation, Navia Aviation As, Comptek Research, Inc., and Sterling Software, Inc.


Completed in April 2001, the deal involved about $3.8 billion in Northrop Grumman stock, with Northrop also agreeing to assume $1.3 billion of debt.

On November 1, 2001, Northrop Grumman restated its third-quarter profit after stopping work on two ships for American Classic Voyages, which filed for bankruptcy protection.


Kresa's string of acquisitions had positioned Northrop Grumman as an unlikely survivor of the post-Cold War defense industry consolidation, with revenues projected to reach $18 billion by 2002.


Illgen Simulation Technologies (2003) — Specialist in software development and test, navigation and communications.


On January 1, 2006, Northrop Grumman opened its business sector called 'Technical Services'. Northrop Grumman and Boeing collaborated on a design concept for NASA's upcoming Orion spacecraft (previously the Crew Exploration Vehicle), but the contract went to rival Lockheed Martin on August 31, 2006.


In 2007, Northrop Grumman created 'National Workforce Centers' as an alternative to offshoring.


In July 2008, three of four Northrop Grumman employees (Thomas Howes, Marc Gonsalves and Keith Stansell) were freed during Operation Jaque after five years of captivity following their aircraft crash in the Colombian jungle.

3001 International (2008) — Provider of geospatial data production and analysis, including airborne imaging, surveying, mapping and geographic information systems.


In November 2010, NASA selected Northrop Grumman for consideration of potential contract awards for heavy lift launch vehicle system concepts, and propulsion technologies.


From 2013, Northrop Grumman participates in the DARPA Tactically Exploited Reconnaissance Node (TERN) program, and received $2.9 million for Phase 1 and $19 million for Phase 2.


Northrop Grumman was one of two teams competing for the Long Range Strike Bomber, and in October 2015 won the contract for the Long Range Strike Bomber.

In October 2015, the US Military announced it had awarded Northrop Grumman the contract for the successor to the B-1 and B-52, subsequently identified as the B-21.


In September 2017, Northrop announced its intention to acquire missile and rocket manufacturer Orbital ATK Inc for $9.2 billion: $7.8 billion in cash plus $1.4 billion in net debt.


In 2018, Northrop Grumman completed the purchase of Orbital ATK, which has since been renamed to Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems.


In December 2020, Northrop sold its federal IT and mission support business to Veritas Capital for $3.4 billion in cash.


The sale closed in February 2021.

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