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29 September 2016

TRITON UAS Approved for Initial Low-Rate Production

Northrop Grumman announced on 26 September that the MQ-4C TRITON UAS has obtained positive Milestone C low-rate initial production approval, marking the beginning of the DoD acquisition process for the US Navy.

(Photo: Northrop Grumman)

Based on the proven GLOBAL HAWK design, TRITON provides what the company describes as, “unprecedented maritime domain awareness for the US Navy.” The UAS has been designed for operations in the most challenging marine environments and includes a unique, robust mission sensor suite providing 360° coverage for all sensors. The USN programme of record calls for a total of 68 TRITONs to be fielded.

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 true reliability of TRITON going into Milestone C. The team analysed and validated sensor imagery and performance at different altitudes and ranges. The ability to classify targets and disseminate critical data was also examined as part of the operational e assessment (OA) testing. Successful evaluation of TRITON’s time on station confirmed that it will meet flight duration requirements. The UAS 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.

TRITON’s critical technology is mature, and the system development and design review phases have been successful,” said Doug Shaffer, vice president, TRITON programmes, Northrop Grumman. “Completion of the full system OA testing exercised in various real-world scenarios validated the system’s ability to protect the Navy’s fleet from evolving threats.”