The First Triton

Northrop Grumman Corp. delivered the first operational MQ-4C Triton aircraft to the U.S. Navy facility at Point Mugu, providing the service with unparalleled endurance and 360-degree coverage that allows for a vastly expanded maritime Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) mission.

The first operational MQ-4C Triton comes in for a landing at Naval Base Ventura County, Point Mugu, on November 9 (Photo credit: U.S. Navy)
The first operational MQ-4C Triton comes in for a landing at Naval Base Ventura County, Point Mugu, on November 9 (Photo credit: U.S. Navy)

«This aircraft represents the beginning of a new era for Naval aviation», said Doug Shaffer, vice president, Triton programs, Northrop Grumman. «Triton is a high-altitude, long-endurance unmanned system that delivers a critical autonomous capability to the Navy, expanding the service’s maritime patrol mission. We are proud to be a part of this historic program».

Northrop Grumman is expected to deliver the second operational Triton aircraft later this year. Naval Base Ventura County Point Mugu is home to the maintenance detachment of Unmanned Patrol Squadron (VUP)19. Maintainers will prepare the first two operational Triton aircraft for its employment to Guam, scheduled next year. VUP-19, the U.S. Navy’s first unmanned patrol squadron, is based at Naval Air Station (NAS) Jacksonville, Florida. Pilots and operators will fly the unmanned Triton aircraft from NAS Jacksonville.

The Navy has announced plans to deploy Triton to NAS Mayport, Florida, NAS Sigonella, Italy and the Middle East in the future.

Flying upwards of 55,000 feet/16,764 meters for up to 24 hours at a time, Triton provides unprecedented, persistent 360-degree maritime domain awareness through vessel detection, classification and tracking. Triton aircraft can combine to fly an orbit, with one plane on station and another en route, providing the U.S. Navy with near-constant coverage of huge swaths of ocean and littorals. The program of record ultimately calls for Northrop Grumman to deliver 68 aircraft to the U.S. Navy.

 

MQ-4C Triton

Northrop Grumman’s MQ-4C Triton Unmanned Aircraft System provides real-time Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance over vast ocean and coastal regions. Supporting missions up to 24 hours, the high-altitude UAS is equipped with a sensor suite that provides a 360-degree view of its surroundings at a radius of over 2,000 NM/2,302 miles/3,704 km.

Triton builds on elements of the Global Hawk UAS while incorporating reinforcements to the airframe and wing, along with de-icing and lightning protection systems. These capabilities allow the aircraft to descend through cloud layers to gain a closer view of ships and other targets at sea when needed. The current sensor suite allows ships to be tracked over time by gathering information on their speed, location and classification.

Built to support the U.S. Navy’s Broad Area Maritime Surveillance program, Triton will support a wide range of intelligence gathering and reconnaissance missions, maritime patrol and search and rescue. The Navy’s program of record calls for 68 aircraft to be built.

 

Key Features

  • Provides persistent maritime ISR at a mission radius of 2,000 NM/2,302 miles/3,704 km; 24 hours/7 days per week with 80% Effective Time On Station (ETOS)
  • Land-based air vehicle and sensor command and control
  • Afloat Level II payload sensor data via line-of-sight
  • Dual redundant flight controls and surfaces
  • 51,000-hour airframe life
  • Due Regard Radar for safe separation
  • Anti/de-ice, bird strike, and lightning protection
  • Communications bandwidth management
  • Commercial off-the-shelf open architecture mission control system
  • Net-ready interoperability solution

 

Payload (360-degree Field of Regard)

Multi-Function Active Sensor Active Electronically Steered Array (MFAS AESA) radar:

  • 2D AESA;
  • Maritime and air-to-ground modes;
  • Long-range detection and classification of targets.

MTS-B multi-spectral targeting system:

  • Electro-optical/infrared;
  • Auto-target tracking;
  • High resolution at multiple field-of-views;
  • Full motion video.

AN/ZLQ-1 Electronic Support Measures:

  • All digital;
  • Specific Emitter Identification.

Automatic Identification System:

  • Provides information received from VHF broadcasts on maritime vessel movements.

 

Specifications

Wingspan 130.9 feet/39.9 m
Length 47.6 feet/14.5 m
Height 15.4 feet/4.6 m
Gross Take-Off Weight (GTOW) 32,250 lbs/14,628 kg
Maximum Internal Payload 3,200 lbs/1,452 kg
Maximum External Payload 2,400 lbs/1,089 kg
Self-Deploy 8,200 NM/9,436 miles/15,186 km
Maximum Altitude 56,500 feet/17,220 m
Maximum Velocity, TAS (True Air Speed) 331 knots/381 mph/613 km/h
Maximum Endurance 24 hours

 

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