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Video Maker Uses Stealth to Avoid a Certain Word About Northrop

September 20, 1987|RALPH VARTABEDIAN

What does Northrop have to say about the Stealth bomber program? Not much, judging from a recently introduced video production on the subject.

Ever since Northrop began work on the Stealth bomber (even the date is officially classified, but it is believed to have been in the 1970s) the Los Angeles company has been forbidden to discuss the top-secret project, formally known as the Advanced Technology Bomber. Another secret program, the Advanced Tactical Fighter, is in the same fix.

So, the company commissioned a computer-generated video on the subject from North Communications, a Los Angeles video production company that specializes in aerospace work.

The result doesn't shed much light on the intercontinental nuclear bomber or the fighter. But the glitzy computer graphics and music have apparently attracted crowds and left them "transfixed" at some recent weapons trade shows.

The piece is an hour-long tape that depicts a repeating series of storm clouds and lightning, which is somehow meant to convey the essence of the bomber and fighter.

"Northrop wants to be able to talk about these projects, but there is not much they can say about them," said Michael North, owner of North Communications. "They want to be able to give the viewer a sense that Northrop is at the top of its game."

Northrop is touted as the "A Team" in the video, which is apparently a reference to its "advanced" projects and not to the television show of the same name about a group of Vietnam War veterans turned crime-fighting mercenaries.

The video repeats itself every three minutes, depicting the rolling storm clouds and lightning superimposed by red and white lines that merge to form the words Advanced Tactical Fighter and Advanced Technology Bomber. Over and over again.

"We were told to give a sense of the power and speed," North said. "The idea is that there is a battle going on, but it is unseen. In the battle of the future, a lot of what is going on will be invisible."

North said the entire video was made without any special access to classified information about the nuclear bomber project, which is under development by 12,000 Northrop workers at a facility in Pico Rivera.

"Northrop gave us adjectives and adverbs, like powerful, unseen, swift," North said.

Apparently not included in the words that Northrop supplied were "$124-million writeoff against profits," which Northrop took on the bomber program in the past year.

North said the video was one of several the firm produced for Northrop at a cost between $20,000 and $40,000 each. Among some of the other videos is one that will be used by Northrop to brief legislators and Pentagon officials, he said.

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