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Northrop Grumman MQ-4C Triton

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The Northrop Grumman MQ-4C Triton is an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) under development for the United States Navy as a surveillance aircraft. In tandem with its associated ground control station, it is considered an unmanned aircraft system (UAS). Developed under the Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS) program, the system is intended to provide real-time intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions (ISR) over vast ocean and coastal regions, continuous maritime surveillance, as well as search and rescue missions, for the U.S. Navy, and to complement the Boeing P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft. Triton builds on elements of the Global Hawk UAS while incorporating reinforcements to the air frame 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 suites allow ships to be tracked over time by gathering information on their speed, location, and classification.

The MQ-4C System Development and Demonstration (SDD) aircraft was delivered in 2012 and the MQ-4C UAS was originally expected to be operational by late 2015 with a total of 88 aircraft to be procured. However, in April 2013, the Navy announced that production has shifted from FY14 to FY15 due to additional testing requirements and technical issues related to the aircraft's double-tail vertical stabilizer and rudder, and software integration for maritime sensors. According to the latest information available from the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR), the Initial Operational Capability (IOC) for the MQ-4C UAS is now planned for 2018 with Full Operating Capability (FOC) planned in 2023.

Users[edit]

  • Australia
    • Royal Australian Navy x 10
  • Germany
    • Luftwaffe x 18
  • India
    • Indian Navy x 12
  • United Kingdom
    • Royal Navy x 22
  • United States
    • United States Navy x 88
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