> our title:

Triton UAV Completes Initial Flight Tests

> original title:

Triton Unmanned Air System Completes Initial Flight Test Phase

(Source: Naval Air Systems Command; issued Mar 21, 2014)


PATUXENT RIVER, Md. --- The Navy's MQ-4C Triton completed its initial flight test phase at Northrop Grumman's Palmdale, Calif., facility March 13, bringing the unmanned air system one step closer to introduction to the fleet in 2017.

The flight testing, called Initial Envelope Expansion, is designed to measure the air vehicle’s performance under a variety of speeds and altitudes. The combined Navy and Northrop Grumman team completed this phase of testing in 13 of the 14 scheduled flights for the test.

"The system performed exceptionally well during flight test, which is a reflection of years of hard work and dedication by our team," said Capt. Jim Hoke, Triton UAS program manager. "Our job is far from over with fleet delivery still a few years away, but each of our team members should reflect on how far we have come and be proud of this accomplishment."

During IEE, the MQ-4C flew a total of 81 hours, reached a maximum altitude of 59,950 feet and executed 568 data points.

The Triton’s software and sensor systems are being tested separately on a surrogate aircraft. This includes a multi-function array sensor (MFAS), configured to function in a maritime environment.

After testing completion at Palmdale, the team has a planned maintenance period to prepare for the system's transition to Naval Air Station Patuxent River. The MQ-4C will take its first cross-country flight in the June/July timeframe, followed by the second test aircraft shortly after. Sensors will be integrated onto both aircraft before resuming flight test this summer.

As an adjunct to the manned P-8A aircraft, the Triton will cover more than 2.7 million square miles in a single mission. Its ability to perform 24/7 intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance with a range of 2,000 nautical miles will allow P-8A, P-3C and EP-3E aircraft to focus on their core missions, adding the capability the Navy's Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Force. (ends)


Northrop Grumman, U.S. Navy Complete Initial Flight Testing of the Triton Unmanned Aircraft System

(Source: Northrop Grumman Corp.; issued March 24, 2014)

SAN DIEGO --- Northrop Grumman Corporation and the U.S. Navy have successfully completed the first major milestone of the Triton unmanned aircraft system (UAS) flight test program, clearing the aircraft to fly at various altitudes, speeds and weights.

During the test program, which is known as initial envelope expansion, the Northrop Grumman/Navy test team validated more than 568 test points. The flights took place at the company's manufacturing facility in Palmdale, Calif.

"Following Triton's first flight in May, we've seen a steady increase in the number of test flights and test points being accomplished," said Capt. James Hoke, Triton program manager with Naval Air Systems Command. "We're now working to fly the second test aircraft and then prepare to ferry both aircraft to Naval Air Station Patuxent River."

The test team conducted 13 flights during this effort, including several long-endurance flights totaling 81 hours at altitudes up to 59,950 feet, Hoke added.

Once both Triton test aircraft reach Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md., the test team will install and flight test the aircrafts' sensor suite to validate the capabilities of each payload.

"As part of this effort, thousands of hours of simulated flight tests have been conducted in our laboratory," said Mike Mackey, Northrop Grumman's Triton program director. "This is a valuable activity because we can review test points in simulated environments that leaves us with less needing to be cleared during actual flight tests. Not only does this save time, it also costs less money by flying only to ensure test points are cleared."

Triton carries a variety of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance sensor payloads that allow military commanders to gather high-resolution imagery, use radar to detect targets, and provide airborne communications and information-sharing capabilities to military units across long distances.

The Navy plans to build 68 Triton UAS and they will be used with the manned P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft to conduct persistent intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions across vast ocean and coastal regions.


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.

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