Triton UAV completes testing milestone

An unmanned aerial vehicle being developed by Northrop Grumman and the U.S. Navy to complement P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft has been successfully flown at varying altitudes and speeds.
By Richard Tomkins  |  March 25, 2014 at 12:10 PM
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Northrop Grumman’s Triton unmanned aircraft system has been cleared for flight at various altitudes, speeds and weight following a flight test program.

The initial envelope expansion testing was conducted with the U.S. Navy at the company’s manufacturing plant in Palmdale, Calif., and involved 568 test points.

"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."

Hoke said the test team conducted 13 flights, including several long-endurance flights totaling 81 hours at altitudes up to 59,950 feet.

The MQ-4C Triton is being developed for the Navy to complement P-8 Poseidon aircraft in maritime surveillance. It is 47.6 feet long, has a wing span of 130.9 feet, a maximum speed of 357 miles per hour and a flight endurance of 30 hours.

The Navy intends to procure more than 60 of the aircraft.

Once Triton test aircraft are transferred to the Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md., the test team will install and flight test the sensor suite to be carried by the aircrafts.

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