The MQ-4C Triton unmanned aircraft system built for the US Navy by Northrop Grumman Corporation has successfully completed Operational Assessment (OA).
CAPTION: MQ-4C Triton unmanned aircraft system approaches the runway at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland, after completing its inaugural cross-country flight from California. US Navy photo by Kelly Schindler
Pending final data analysis, the completion of this milestone signals the maturity of the system and paves the way for a positive ‘Milestone C’ decision, which paves the way for low-rate initial production.
As part of OA, an integrated test team made up of Navy personnel from Air Test and Evaluation Squadrons VX-1 and VX-20, Unmanned Patrol Squadron, VUP-19 and Northrop Grumman demonstrated the reliability of Triton over the course of approximately 60 flight hours.
The team analyzed sensor imagery and validated radar performance of sensors at different altitudes and ranges.
The aircraft system’s ability to classify targets and disseminate critical data was also examined as part of the operational effectiveness and suitability testing.
Successful evaluation of Triton’s time on station confirmed that it will meet flight-duration requirements.
Doug Shaffer, vice president Triton programs, Northrop Grumman, said operational assessment for Triton included several flights which exercised the weapon system through operationally relevant scenarios that demonstrated its readiness to meet the Navy’s maritime intelligence, reconnaissance and surveillance needs.
“As a result of the flight tests, the program moves one step closer to a Milestone C decision later this spring,” he said.
Australia has committed to acquire up to seven MQ-4C Tritons, which will be based at RAAF Base Edinburgh, South Australia, and will operate alongside the P-8A Poseidon when it enters RAAF service to replace the ageing AP-3C Orion capability.
While building on elements of the Global Hawk UAS, the Triton incorporates reinforcements to the airframe and wing, along with de-icing and lightning protection systems.
These capabilities allow the aircraft to descend through cloud layers to gain a closer view of ships and other targets at sea when needed and will complement theP-8A Poseidon.
The Triton platform has been under development by the United States Navy since 2008.
Northrop Grumman is a leading global security company providing innovative systems, products and solutions in unmanned systems, cyber, C4ISR, and logistics and modernization to government and commercial customers worldwide. Visit www.northropgrumman.com for more information.