Northrop Grumman is developing a company-owned unmanned aircraft that will be used as a development and demonstration platform for at-sea surveillance under the US Navy’s MQ-4C broad area maritime surveillance unmanned aircraft system (BAMS UAS) programme.
.Named Triton, the MQ-4C BAMS UAS will provide constant surveillance for the Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Force (MPRF) to carry out littoral missions.
Northrop Grumman Triton vice president and programme manager Steve Enewold said the aircraft would initially be used for further testing efforts of the navy as the company prepares Triton to be operational in late 2015.
"Eventually, we will use the aircraft as a test bed to improve system performance, incorporate new intelligence-gathering capabilities and conduct demonstrations," Enewold added.
Developed as a naval version of the US Air Force’s RQ-4 Global Hawk aircraft, the MQ-4C BAMS UAS has been designed for maritime surveillance, gather enemy battle information, damage assessment and port surveillance missions.
Powered by a Rolls-Royce AE3007H turbofan engine, the high-altitude, long-endurance UAS can cruise at a maximum speed of 357mph and reach a maximum altitude of 60,000ft.
As well as providing signals intelligence (SIGNET), C4ISR and maritime strike capabilities, the UAS also supports anti-surface warfare, battle-space management and targeting missions for the navy.
The company completed wing sections integration on to the aircraft’s fuselage at the company’s production facility in Palmdale, California, US.
In order to meet the Triton programme testing requirements, the new unmanned aircraft will be equipped with same intelligence-gathering sensors and communications suite.
In November 2012, the US Navy and Northrop jointly conducted ground testing of second MQ-4C BAMS UAS in preparation for its first flight.
Image: Northrop’s Triton unmanned aircraft under construction. Photo: Northrop Grumman photo by Alan Radecki.