April 5 (UPI) -- The U.S. Navy recently completed a round of tests with an updated variant of the Northrop Grumman-built MQ-4C Triton unmanned aerial vehicle.
According to the manufacturer, enhancements included software designed to improve the aircraft's autonomous operational capabilities. Testers say the trials enable the platform to enter Early Operational Capability for the U.S. armed forces in early 2018.
"The integration of this enhanced software suite expands Triton's operational maritime intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, and targeting capabilities and moves it that much closer to qualification for operational missions in the Pacific theater," Triton program vice president Doug Shaffer said in a press release.
The Triton's new equipment bolsters its Traffic Alert and Collision Avoidance System and Multi-Function Active Sensor radar modes.
The MQ-4C Triton is an intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance unmanned aircraft. It is capable of flying for up to 24 hours at a time, and can reach altitudes of up to 56,500 feet. The drone is also equipped with a multi-sensor mission payload to support its detection and tracking capabilities.