SAN DIEGO, Jan. 7 (UPI) -- Northrop Grumman's MQ-4C Triton unmanned aerial system has hit the half-way mark in envelope expansion flight testing with the U.S. Navy.
The testing at Northrop's manufacturing facility in Palmdale, Calif., is validating the system's ability to operate at a range of altitudes, speeds and weights. So far, nine light tests have been conducted.
"Completion of envelope expansion will allow the test team to prepare for installation and further testing of Triton's surveillance sensors," said Mike Mackey, Northrop Grumman's Triton program director.
Northrop said endurance flights up to 9.4-hours at altitudes up to 50,000 feet were achieved in the testing, which included the aircraft performing doublets, a maneuver that tests the aircraft's ability to recover from small perturbations in its flight path caused by turbulence. Additional testing details were not disclosed.
The U.S, Navy plans to procure 68 of the UAS to conduct surveillance missions in conjunction with P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft.