The MQ-4C Triton unmanned aircraft completes its inaugural cross-country ferry flight at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md., after taking off from the Northrop Grumman facility in Palmdale, Calif. Photo by Erik Hildebrandt/U.S. Navy
Dec. 29 (UPI) -- Naval Air Systems Command has awarded Northrop Grumman a contract to acquire an initial production of three MQ-4C Triton unmanned aerial aircraft.
The terms of the deal, announced Thursday by the Department of Defense, come under a $255.3 million a fixed-price-incentive contract, which is a modification to a previously awarded contract.
A fixed-price-incentive contract uses a formula that determines the costs accumulated by Northrop Grumman and the final price the U.S. Navy will pay for the product, which may or may not be higher or lower than the original negotiated contract award.
With the contract in full swing, Northrop Grumman will provide three MQ-4C Triton unmanned aircraft, which includes trade studies and tooling, in support of the Persistent Maritime Unmanned Aircraft Systems Program Office at Naval Air Station Patuxent in St. Mary's County, Md., where Naval Air Systems Command is headquartered.
The MQ-4C Triton is a derivative of the RQ-4 Global Hawk surveillance unmanned aerial vehicle.
The Triton has a range of over 9,000 miles and can hover for up to 24 hours before needing to refuel.
Triton is designed as a sensor platform for high-altitude, long-endurance surveillance missions over ocean and coastal areas, deploying its maritime radar, electro-optical and infrared cameras, communications relays and electronic support measures systems.
The Navy plans to use the Triton alongside the P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft as the Navy's primary long-range aerial intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platform.
Navy officials have previously said they plan to purchase 68 Tritons as part of the drone fleet.
Work on the contract will be performed in multiple U.S. states, as well as Canada, and is expected to be completed by December 2021.
The total contract amount will be obligated to Northrop Grumman at the time of award contract, and will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year.
In November, Northrop Grumman delivered the first operational MQ-4C Trition aircraft to the U.S. Navy facility at Point Mugu.