Triton UAV Completes Cross-Country Navy Test

The MQ-4C Triton drone completes its latest flight tests, crossing the US in under 11 hours. Will UAV redefine military procurement times?

drone, UAV, Triton, NavyNorthrup Grumman’s MQ-4C Triton UAV recently completed its first cross-country flight tests in preparation for its introduction to US Navy Service.

With a wingspan of 39.9m (130.9ft) and a body length of 14.5m (47.6ft) the Triton drone was designed for long duration, high ceiling surveillance flight. Capable of reaching a speed of 575km/h (357mph) the UAV isn’t the speediest aircraft around, however, its ability to provide real-time intelligence over vast swaths of the globe is unparalleled.

Built as an evolution of the US’s Global Hawk UAV, the Triton’s surveillance package is significantly more advanced that its predecessors and contains the ability to not only track, but identify vehicles and ships from several miles aloft.

During tests conducted last week the MQ-4C was tasked with flying across the United States, taking off in Palmdale, California and landing in Patuxent, Maryland. During the drone’s 6,093km (3786 mile) flight the craft traced the US southern border and crossed the Gulf of Mexico and Florida before bearing north along the US’s eastern coastline. During its test flight the Triton, which was piloted by two crews, one on each coast, maintained an altitude of 15,240m (50,000ft).

Though the Triton has already completed 15 tests in its short operational life, the US Navy has stated that it will soon face additional trials. As part of its certification process the drone will need to undergo tests to prove the craft’s sensors, communications and interoperability. If all tests go as planned the US Navy expects the MQ-4C to enter service in 2017. Given that the Triton’s development began in 2008 the craft and future UAV could help redefine the timeframe under which military technology is developed.

Source: US Navy