The MQ-4C Triton unmanned aircraft system has been granted positive Milestone C low-rate initial production approval, marking the beginning of the production and deployment phase of the US acquisition process.
“Triton’s critical technology is mature, and the system development and design review phases have been successful,” Doug Shaffer, vice-president of Triton programs at Northrop Grumman, said in a statement on September 26.
“Completion of the full system operational assessment testing exercised in various real-world scenarios validated the system’s ability to protect the Navy’s fleet from evolving threats. We are extremely pleased with the maritime domain awareness products and results coming from Triton.”
From the early 2020s, Australia is set to acquire seven Triton aircraft with supporting intelligence, surveillance and control systems.
“This milestone brings us closer to delivering a new capability to the fleet that will change the way [the US] Navy executes ISR around the globe,” said Sean Burke, Triton program manager. “Teamed with manned counterparts, Triton’s highly capable sensor package will provide persistent maritime intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance data collection and dissemination capabilities to the fleet.”
An integrated test team made up of US Navy and Northrop Grumman personnel demonstrated Triton’s reliability, the company stated.
The team analysed and validated sensor imagery and performance at different altitudes and ranges; the system’s ability to classify targets and disseminate critical data was also examined as part of the operational assessment testing.
Successful evaluation of the aircraft’s time on station confirmed that it will meet flight duration requirements, Northrop Grumman added. The MQ-4C also transferred full motion video to the P-8A Poseidon in flight.