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MQ-4C Triton UAS demos new capabilities

By Richard Tomkins
MQ-4C Triton UAS demos new capabilities
An MQ-4C Triton awaits launch. U.S. Navy photo

PATUXENT RIVER, Md., June 23 (UPI) -- Northrop Grumman's MQ-4C Triton unmanned aerial system has demonstrated new communications and flight capabilities in U.S. Navy testing.

In a flight test earlier this month, an MQ-4C successfully exchanged full motion video with a distant P-8A Poseidon aircraft while in flight using a Common Data Link, said U.S. Naval Air Systems Command.

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The test demonstrated Triton's interoperability and capability to track a target with its electro-optical/infrared camera to build situational awareness for P-8 aircrew.

"In an operational environment, this would enable the P-8 aircrew to become familiar with a contact of interest and surrounding vessels well in advance of the aircraft's arrival in station" said Cmdr. Daniel Papp, Triton integrated program team lead.

The MQ-4C Triton can perform persistent intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance within a range of 2,000 nautical miles.

Triton also has conducted its first heavyweight flight to expand its time on station. In a test, The UAS operated in the 20,000-foot altitude band in the heavy weight configuration for the first time and in a second heavyweight flight operated in the 30,000-foot altitude band.

"The heavy weight envelope expansion work will enable Triton to realize its long-dwell capability and become the unblinking eye for the fleet," Papp said.

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Triton is scheduled for deployment with the Navy in 2018. It can fly missions of much as 24 hours in duration and monitor 2 million square miles of ocean and littoral areas at a time.

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