The MQ-4C Triton Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) has received milestone C approval, clearing the way for the programme to enter into Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP), the first part of the production and deployment phase.
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 performed Operational Assessment (OA) testing in various real-world scenarios. The team analyzed and validated sensor imagery and performance at different altitudes and ranges.
The aircraft system’s ability to classify targets and disseminate critical data was also examined as part of the OA testing.
Successful evaluation of Triton’s time on station confirmed that it will meet flight duration requirements. Triton also transferred full motion video to a P-8A Poseidon in flight, proving a key capability to significantly enhance its ability to detect, track, classify and identify maritime threats.
The MQ-4C Triton will be a forward- deployed, land-based, autonomously operated system that provides persistent ISR within a range of 2,000 nautical miles using a multi-sensor mission payload including maritime radar, Electro-Optical/Infrared (EO/IR), Electronic Support Measures (ESM), Automatic Identification System (AIS) and basic communications relay.
Triton is scheduled to deploy in fiscal year 2018. Australia is expected to formally place an order for the system in the near future to operate alongside its future fleet of P-8A Poseidons.