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Triton UAV Flies Across United States

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Navy’s Triton Unmanned Aircraft Completes First Cross-Country Flight

(Source: Naval Air Systems Command; issued Sep 18, 2014)


The Navy’s unmanned MQ-4C Triton on its way to Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md., Sept. 18, during an approximately 11-hour flight from Northrop’s California facility. Note the open air brakes on the wings. (US Navy photo)


PATUXENT RIVER, Md. --– The MQ-4C Triton Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) arrived at Naval Air Station Patuxent River Sept. 18 after completing its inaugural cross-country ferry flight, bringing the Navy closer to delivering this new capability to the fleet.

This flight marked the transition from initial flight test, which established basic safety of flight, to testing that will demonstrate Triton’s capability to perform operational missions in the maritime domain.

“Today we brought Triton home to the center of research, development, test and evaluation for naval aviation,” said Rear Adm. Mat Winter, who oversees the Program Executive Office for Unmanned Aviation and Strike Weapons (PEO (U&W)) at NAVAIR. “The testing performed here over the next few years is critical to delivering a capability that will provide our warfighter an unparalleled awareness of the maritime environment in locations across the globe.”

Winter, along with the flight crew and members from the Triton’s Persistent Maritime Unmanned Systems Program Office Office (PMA-262), witnessed the historic landing at 7:53 a.m. During the approximately 11-hour 3,290 nautical mile flight originating from Northrop Grumman’s Palmdale, California, facility, the Triton flew along the southern U.S. border, the Gulf of Mexico and across Florida via an approved instrument route. Operators navigated the aircraft up the Atlantic Coast and Chesapeake Bay at altitudes in excess of 50,000 feet to ensure there were no conflicts with civilian air traffic.

“The coordination to bring the Navy’s largest unmanned asset across the country was significant and involved many organizations,” said Capt. Jim Hoke, PMA-262’s program manager. “This phenomenal team executed the system’s longest flight to date exactly as planned.”

Hoke said this perfect execution was no surprise to him since the system has exceeded performance standards during the course of the last year. Triton has completed 15 test flights prior to today's ferry flight, demonstrating its ability to operate at various speeds and altitudes.

PMA-262 has scheduled Triton operations to start at Pax River within the next several weeks. The Triton integrated test team will conduct further envelope expansion, sensor, communications and interoperability testing.

These are just a few of the many robust tests we will conduct over the next three years, said Mike McDaniel, lead flight test director. Three Triton test vehicles will fly approximately 2,000 hours before achieving initial operational capability in 2017. (ends)


MQ-4C Triton UAS Arrives at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Enters Next Phase of Testing

(Source: Northrop Grumman Corp; issued September 18, 2014)

PALMDALE, Calif. --- The first U.S. Navy MQ-4C Triton unmanned aircraft system (UAS) has completed a flight from California to Maryland. The UAS flew 11 hours from the Northrop Grumman Corporation (NOC) facility in Palmdale to Naval Air Station Patuxent River to start its next phase of testing, moving the program closer toward operational assessment. Northrop Grumman is the prime contractor for the Navy's MQ-4C Triton UAS program.

At Naval Air Station Patuxent River, the aircraft will be outfitted with a sensor suite, before going through a series of sensor integration flights. One of Triton's primary sensors, the AN/ZPY-3 multifunction active sensor radar, will provide an unprecedented 360-degree field of regard for detecting and identifying ships.

"Now that the aircraft has arrived, we are ready to conduct the next phase of the test program," said Capt. James Hoke, Triton program manager, Naval Air Systems Command. "Triton is one of the Navy's most significant investments in unmanned aircraft systems to date and we look forward to evaluating its capabilities."

In preparation for the cross-country flight, a Navy/Northrop Grumman team completed numerous systems tests on Triton.

During the flight, the joint team controlled the aircraft from a ground station in Palmdale, which served as the forward operating base, and a Navy System Integration Lab at Patuxent River, which served as the main operating base. The aircraft traveled along the same flight path that was used to transfer the Broad Area Maritime Surveillance Demonstrator from Palmdale to Patuxent River several years ago.

"Triton is the Navy's largest, most advanced unmanned maritime surveillance system to cross such a distance," said Mike Mackey, Triton UAS program director, Northrop Grumman. "The successful flight was the result of a Navy/Northrop Grumman team effort, from finishing a major software package to managing equipment inspections."

Over the next few weeks, two other Tritons, one of which is a demonstration aircraft owned by Northrop Grumman, will also fly to Patuxent River. Both will be used during system development and demonstration tests.

Triton is specifically designed for maritime missions of up to 24 hours. It can fly at altitudes higher than 10 miles, allowing for coverage of 1 million square nautical miles of ocean, in a single mission.


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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