MELBOURNE, Fla., April 19 -- Northrop Grumman Corp.'s Integrated Systems and Aerostructures (ISA) sector has won a $40-million contract to develop engineering and manufacturing for the US Navy's Airborne Laser Mine Detection System (ALMDS). The company said the contract entails approximately three years of work for the Naval Surface Warfare Center; a production decision is expected before the end of 2004.In the ALMDS, which uses a laser-based system mounted in a helicopter, a laser scans an extremely wide path of the ocean while the helicopter flies at high speed. The system generates a topographic view of the ocean floor together with a computer-enhanced image of the shapes, sizes and locations of mines. According to Northrop Grumman, the sensors of the ALMDS are designed to accurately locate and identify mines in a single pass over the target area while minimizing threats to the platform.Alan J. Doshier, vice president of Northrop Grumman/ISA's Airborne Ground Surveillance and Battle Management Systems business unit, noted, Securing this prime contact for the ALMDS program positions us in a new market -- with a new Navy customer. This program builds upon our core capabilities in systems integration and software development. We have been able to integrate excellent laser technology from our teammate, Arete Associates of Tucson, Ariz., to create a product that is highly responsive to our customer's needs.