Category Archives: Unmanned Systems

Australian Triton

The Australian Department of Defence officially announced its plan on June 26, 2018 to purchase the Northrop Grumman Corporation-built MQ-4C Triton aircraft system, further cementing the company’s commitment to a longstanding U.S. ally.

Australia to purchase MQ-4C Triton aircraft system, delivering unprecedented maritime domain awareness
Australia to purchase MQ-4C Triton aircraft system, delivering unprecedented maritime domain awareness

An unmanned aircraft system with an autonomous capability built for maritime intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, MQ-4C Triton is the first Northrop Grumman-built aircraft system Australia has purchased. The system will be operated by the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF).

«Northrop Grumman looks forward to bringing the MQ-4C Triton unmanned system with its autonomous capability to Australia», said Ian Irving, chief executive officer, Northrop Grumman Australia. «Working with the Royal Australian Air Force and the U.S. Navy, we are confident that we can provide the best capability to fulfill Australia’s maritime mission».

Triton can fly at altitudes of 55,000 feet/16,764 m for 24 hours at a time and is equipped with sensors that provide high-resolution imagery and near real-time video. Pilots and sensor operators fly the Triton from ground stations, which can command flights all over the world.

«Triton provides unprecedented endurance and 360-degree coverage through its unique sensor suite», said Doug Shaffer, vice president of MQ-4C Triton programs, Northrop Grumman. «Australia has one of the largest sea zones in the world over which it has rights to use marine resources, also known as an Economic Exclusion Zone. As a flexible platform, MQ-4C Triton can serve in missions as varied as maritime domain awareness, target acquisition, fisheries protection, oil field monitoring and humanitarian relief».

MQ-4C Triton builds on Northrop Grumman’s legacy of success in autonomous systems. The U.S. Navy recently acquired two operational MQ-4C Triton aircraft and is under contract for six more. These aircraft will go to Guam later this year and provide the Navy with an unprecedented common operating picture of the maritime environment. MQ-4C Triton can detect, classify and track ships over large swaths of ocean and littorals. The U.S. Navy program of record is for 68 aircraft.

Northrop Grumman has been building its presence Down Under for many years. The global aerospace and technology company will be the anchor tenant of an AUD $50 million Electronic Sustainment Centre of Excellence, to be established at the Badgerys Creek Airport precinct in western Sydney. The new centre will support advanced electronics such as communications and electronic warfare equipment and targeting pods. Northrop Grumman will bring together highly skilled technicians, engineers and other professionals whose work will be further supported by the company’s high-end technology and software expertise.

Through a Global Supply Chain Deed signed with the Australian Department of Defence in 2011 and renewed in 2017, Northrop Grumman is identifying opportunities for Australian industry to be part of the company’s global supply chain. For example, Northrop Grumman’s largest Australian F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter supplier, Quickstep Technologies, demonstrated that its new production facility is equipped and qualified to manufacture and deliver quality composite parts for the F-35’s centre fuselage. At a new facility opened in Bankstown, Sydney, in 2012, Quickstep is expected to manufacture over 36,000 parts for the F-35.

Northrop Grumman also works with CEA Technologies, one of Australia’s leading military electronic systems and radar companies, and Electro Optics Systems, which develops products incorporating advanced electro-optic technologies for the global aerospace market.

«Australia and the United States are celebrating 100 Years of Mateship this year, marking an alliance that goes back to the trenches of WWI. Northrop Grumman is proud to partner with such a loyal friend and provide this unprecedented capability to the RAAF», said Irving. «We consider Triton and its autonomous technology to be the future of the next centennial of aviation, and we are honored to be part of this century-long partnership».

 

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

 

Flight Operations

Northrop Grumman Corp. joined the U.S. Navy in officially welcoming the MQ-4C Triton unmanned aircraft system to the fleet with a ceremony on May 31 to celebrate the commencement of flight operations.

The first two operational MQ-4C Triton aircraft at home in their newly refurbished hangar at Naval Base Ventura County, Point Mugu. The insignia of Unmanned Patrol Squadron (VUP)-19, the Navy’s first unmanned patrol squadron, can be seen behind them
The first two operational MQ-4C Triton aircraft at home in their newly refurbished hangar at Naval Base Ventura County, Point Mugu. The insignia of Unmanned Patrol Squadron (VUP)-19, the Navy’s first unmanned patrol squadron, can be seen behind them

Naval Base Ventura County (NBVC) Point Mugu is home to the maintenance detachment of Unmanned Patrol Squadron (VUP)-19 DET Point Mugu, the Navy’s first unmanned patrol squadron. Maintainers are conducting training and tests on the Triton aircraft before it deploys to Guam later this year.

Point Mugu has also completely refurbished an existing hangar that will accommodate up to four Triton aircraft with its 130.9-foot/40-meter wingspan. The first two Triton aircraft are located at Point Mugu.

Brian Chappel, sector vice president and general manager, Autonomous Systems, Northrop Grumman, joined Doug Shaffer, vice president, Triton programs, Northrop Grumman, and Rear Admiral William Wheeler III in cutting the ribbon on the refurbished hangar.

«With each new part of the Triton infrastructure that the Navy stands up, we move closer to making Triton operational and showing the fleet what this remarkable aircraft system can do», Shaffer said. «I look forward to the day when this hangar is full of activity leading up to the Guam employment».

«As Naval Base Ventura County’s representative in Congress, I am proud to support the MQ-4C Triton aircraft system», said U.S. Representative Julia Brownley, Ventura County. «The Triton is an essential component of the Navy’s future intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities, and a critical program for the continued strength of Naval Base Ventura County and our national security. I have made funding for research, development, and procurement of the Triton a top priority. When fully developed, this program will bring jobs and an economic boost to Ventura County».

Built by Northrop Grumman, the MQ-4C Triton is an unmanned intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft system with an autonomous capability that is piloted from a ground station. Triton can fly for up to 24 hours and reach altitudes of up to 55,000 feet/16,764 m. Flying high above the battle space, Triton provides a critical common operating picture, disseminating images and near-real time video to commanders around the world.

 

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

 

Drone swarms

Under DARPA’s Offensive Swarm-Enabled Tactics (OFFSET) program, Raytheon BBN Technologies is developing technology to direct and control swarms of small, autonomous air and ground vehicles. The technology includes:

  • a visual interface that allows «drag and drop» creation and manipulation of drone tactics;
  • a game-based simulator to evaluate those tactics;
  • a physical swarm testbed to perform live tactics evaluations.
The Coyote UAS is a low-cost, expendable system with a broad spectrum of capabilities
The Coyote UAS is a low-cost, expendable system with a broad spectrum of capabilities

«Operators use speech or gestures to control the swarm. This is a tremendous advantage during operations», said Shane Clark, Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) and principal investigator on the program. «The system provides sensor feeds and mission status indicators for complete situational awareness».

The flexible, scalable programming software and simulation environment means users can coordinate drone behaviors in teams composed of different vehicle types that use various sensors.

Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is inviting additional organizations to participate in OFFSET as «sprinters» through an open Broad Agency Announcement. Sprinters can create their own novel swarm tactics and the Raytheon BBN team will work with them to evaluate the tactics in simulation, and possibly field them for live trials.

In 2016, Raytheon, as part of the Office of Naval Research Low-Cost UAV Swarming Technology (LOCUST) program, conducted demonstrations that successfully netted together 30 Coyote Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) in a swarm. Raytheon BBN Technologies is a wholly owned subsidiary of Raytheon Company.

Heavy Fuel Capability

Schiebel has successfully demonstrated the heavy fuel variant of the Camcopter S-100 Unmanned Air System (UAS) as part of its customer acceptance program with the Royal Australian Navy (RAN).

Schiebel says that the heavy fuel variant of its Camcopter S-100 unmanned helicopter demonstrated its ability to deliver imagery from operational ranges of up to 108 NM/124 miles/200 km as well as altitudes above 18,000 feet/5,486 m (Schiebel photo)
Schiebel says that the heavy fuel variant of its Camcopter S-100 unmanned helicopter demonstrated its ability to deliver imagery from operational ranges of up to 108 NM/124 miles/200 km as well as altitudes above 18,000 feet/5,486 m (Schiebel photo)

Under the directive of the Navy Minor Project (NMP) 1942 to procure a vertical takeoff and landing Maritime Tactical Unmanned Aircraft System – Interim Capability (MTUAS-IC), RAN sought a platform for shipborne Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR). Selected for its maturity and demonstrated capability, Schiebel’s Camcopter S-100 UAS successfully completed its flying program for the RAN validation and verification customer acceptance program at the Jervis Bay Airfield facilities in New South Wales, Australia.

In a comprehensive series of tests, the JP-5 (NATO F-44) heavy fuel powered Camcopter S-100, equipped with a Wescam MX-10S payload and at operational ranges of up to 60 nautical miles as well as altitudes above 10 000 feet, presented its ability to deliver world-class imagery to commanders.

As the RAN Contract Manager Kevin Beare noted, «The heavy fuel variant of the S-100 has performed very well during the validation and verification program and the RAN looks forward to utilising this platform to achieve NMP1942 project objectives over the coming years».

«The S-100 will prove to be an effective asset in enhancing the Navy’s ISR capabilities», said Hans Georg Schiebel, Chairman of the Schiebel Group. «We are excited about the positive feedback we are receiving from RAN and are looking forward to continued cooperation in the future».

 

About Schiebel

Founded in 1951, the Vienna-based Schiebel Group focuses on the development, testing and production of state-of-the-art mine detection equipment and the revolutionary Camcopter S-100 Unmanned Air System (UAS). Schiebel has built an international reputation for producing quality defense and humanitarian products, which are backed by exceptional after-sales service and support. Since 2010, Schiebel’s composite division supplies high-tech customers with products of supreme carbon fiber technology – all quality-controlled to meet ISO 9001 standards. With headquarters in Vienna (Austria), Schiebel now maintains production facilities in Wiener Neustadt (Austria) and Abu Dhabi (UAE), as well as offices in Washington DC (USA) and Phnom Penh (Cambodia).

 

About the Camcopter S-100

Schiebel’s Camcopter S-100 Unmanned Air System (UAS) is an operationally proven capability for military and civilian applications. The Vertical Takeoff and Landing (VTOL) UAS requires no prepared area or supporting equipment to enable launch and recovery. It operates in day and night, under adverse weather conditions, with a beyond line-of-sight capability out to 108 NM/124 miles/200 km, over land and sea. Its carbon fiber and titanium fuselage provides capacity for a wide range of payload/endurance combinations up to a service ceiling of 18,000 feet/5,486 m. In a typical configuration, the Camcopter S-100 carries a 75 lbs./34 kg payload up to 10 hours and is powered with AVGas or JP-5 heavy fuel. High-definition payload imagery is transmitted to the control station in real time. In addition to its standard GPS waypoint or manual navigation, the S-100 can successfully operate in environments where GPS is not available, with missions planned and controlled via a simple point-and-click graphical user interface. The high-tech unmanned helicopter is backed by Schiebel’s excellent customer support and training services.