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Navy's Triton drone flies with new radar system

The U.S. Navy's MQ-4C unmanned aerial system has been equipped with a new, enhanced radar system.

By Richard Tomkins
Navy's Triton drone flies with new radar system
An MQ-4C Triton manufactured by Northrop Grumman and used by the U.S. Navy takes to the air with new radar. Photo courtesy U.S. Navy

PATUXENT RIVER, Md., April 21 (UPI) -- A U.S. Navy MQ-4C Triton unmanned aerial system has flown for the first time with a new search radar system that provides enhanced surveillance capabilities.

The new radar is named the Multi-Function Active Sensor, with a 360-degree view of a large geographic area and providing all-weather coverage for detecting, classifying, tracking and identifying points of interest, Naval Air Systems Command reported.

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"This first sensor flight is a huge achievement for the program," said Sean Burke, Triton program manager. "Our Navy and Northrop Grumman team has worked extremely hard on this developmental effort, completing more than 40 surrogate flights over the last three years, and we saw the realization of that development work."

Added Lt. Cmdr. Glenn Rioux, government flight test director and senior Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 20 representative supporting the Triton integrated test team: "Our primary objective was to test this new radar, but we also looked at how the aircraft performed, as well as testing additional data links.

"This was a successful flight on many levels. We are still reviewing the data and actively planning our next text event."

In addition to the new radar, the UAS will also carry an electro-optical/infrared sensor for still imagery and full-motion video of potential threats; an electronic support measures package to identify and geo-locate radar threat signals; and a system to detect and track vessels equipped with automatic identification system responders.

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The MQ-4C from Northrop Grumman has a flight endurance time of more than 24 hours and a service ceiling of 60,000 feet.

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