The US Navy has carried out the maiden test flight of the MQ-4C Triton in its new Integrated Functional Capability (IFC)-4 configuration.

The flight test was conducted at NAS Patuxent River in Maryland, US, on 29 July.

The uncrewed aircraft system (UAS) has now moved to the next phase of its development.

The new hardware and software configuration will deliver an improved multi-mission sensor capability. It is part of the US Navy’s maritime intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and targeting (MISR&T) transition plan.

MQ-4C Triton’s Integrated Test Team (ITT) comprises cooperative partners from US Navy, Australia and other government / industry teams.

The teams concluded a functional check flight and initial aeromechanical test points. These showcased the UAS’s stability and control following a two-and-a-half-year modification period.

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Persistent Maritime UAS programme manager captain Dan Mackin said: “Today’s flight is a significant milestone for the programme and a testament to the resolve of the entire ITT, their hard work, and passion for test execution and programme success.

“This flight proves that the programme is making significant progress toward Triton’s advanced multi-intelligence upgrade and it brings us closer to achieving the initial operational capability (IOC) milestone.”

The IOC is expected to be declared in 2023. In support of this, several Triton assets have been upgraded into the IFC-4 configuration.

According to the US Navy, a single test asset is in the current IFC-3 configuration. This asset is in the IFC-3 configuration to support IFC-4’s sustainment of deployed systems and risk reduction.

Currently, two MQ-4C Triton jets in the baseline configuration, known as IFC-3, are forward-deployed to US Navy’s 7th Fleet to support early operational capability and Commander Task Force (CTF)-72 tasking operations.

The MQ-4C Triton is a broad area maritime surveillance (BAMS) UAS unveiled by Northrop Grumman for the US Navy.

It is a long-endurance aircraft capable of conducting persistent ISR missions to complement the P-8 aircraft in the maritime domain.