The MQ-4C Triton unmanned aircraft system that is being built for the US Navy by Northrop Grumman has completed operational assessment, the company announced.
Pending final data analysis, the achievement of this milestone signals the maturity of the unmanned system and paves the way for a positive Milestone C decision for the program that would transition Triton into low-rate initial production, Northrop Grumman stated.
As part of operational assessment, which began at Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Maryland on November 17, an integrated test team made up of US Navy and Northrop Grumman personnel demonstrated the reliability of the MQ-4C over the course of approximately 60 flight hours.
“The team analysed sensor imagery and validated radar performance of Triton’s sensors at different altitudes and ranges,” the company said in a statement. “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.”
The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) will use the MQ-4C for maritime patrol and in other surveillance roles. Up to seven Triton aircraft are expected to be based at RAAF Base Edinburgh, operating alongside the P-8A Poseidon.