On Wednesday, the Department of Defense announced two contract awards to defense contractor Northrop Grumman (NYSE:NOC), worth a combined $43.2 million.

The first, smaller, and most intelligible contract, for $10.5 million, requests the company's Technical Services division to supply nine T-38C Pacer Classic III aircraft tooling installation sets. Pacer Classic  is a program designed to upgrade and extend the service life of the Air Force's T-38 Talon supersonic training jet (built by Northrop) into 2020.

The second contract, more valuable at $32.7 million "cost-plus-fixed-fee," goes to Northrop's Aerospace Systems division, and calls upon the company to deliver "data, reports, software and hardware related to Diverse Accessible Heterogeneous Integration Research and Development" -- a program whose name seems almost designed to obfuscate its purpose.

 DAHI is a DARPA contract and, according to Congressional sources,  its goal is to "develop advanced heterogeneous integration processes, allowing diverse material systems and device technologies to be tightly integrated on a common silicon substrate." So, in essence, this is an R&D contract to advance the technology of designing and building semiconductors.

Fool contributor Rich Smith has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of Northrop Grumman. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.