Last week, the Northrup Grumman unveiled its latest addition to the Navy's Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Force.
The MQ-4C Triton has been four years in the making and features a AN/ZPY-3 multi-function active-sensor (MFAS) radar system. According to the Navy's press release, the MFAS will allow it to cover 2.7 million miles in one mission. This unmanned aerial vehicle with a 130.9-foot wingspan is expected to free up other aircraft to focus on other missions, according to the release.
Here is Triton's mission according to the Broad Area Maritime Surveillance Unmanned Aerial Surveillance Systems program:
As an adjunct to the P-8A, the BAMS UAS will provide combat information to operational and tactical users such as the Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG), Carrier Strike Group (CSG) and the Joint Forces Maritime Component Commander (JFMCC). BAMS UAS will provide intelligence preparation of the environment by providing a more continuous source of information to maintain the Common Operational and Tactical Picture (COTP) of the maritime battle space. Additionally, BAMS UAS-collected data posted to the Global Information Grid (GIG) will support a variety of intelligence activities and nodes. In a secondary role, the BAMS UAS will also be used alone or in conjunction with other assets to respond to theater-level operational or national strategic tasking.
Next steps for Triton include compliance testing and its first flight. The aircraft is expected to be fully operational in 2015.
"It's a phenomenal event to see the fruits of our labor come to fruition after four years of hard work and dedication to this program," Capt. James Hoke, program manager for the Persistent Maritime Unmanned Aircraft Systems Program Office (PMA-262), said in a statement. "We are looking forward to continuing testing and evaluation, parts assembly and installation and radar risk-reduction tests."