The US Navy and Northrop Grumman are jointly conducting ground testing of second MQ-4C broad area maritime surveillance unmanned aircraft system (BAMS UAS) in preparation for its first flight.
During ground trials, the new unmanned aircraft and the first UAS will demonstrate their control software and subsystems to further reduce associated risks.
Northrop Grumman's vice president and programme manager for Triton Steve Enewold said: "Through numerous engine runs and checks with communications systems between the aircraft and ground controllers, we can ensure that everything is working properly before entering taxi testing as the next step in our efforts."
The company was awarded systems development and demonstration contract in 2008 to build and test two aircraft in preparation for operational deployment with the US Navy by late 2015.
Officially named Triton, the MQ-4C BAMS UAS will provide constant surveillance for the Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Force (MPRF) to carry out littoral missions.
Developed as a naval version of the US Air Force's RQ-4 Global Hawk aircraft, the MQ-4C BAMS UAS has been designed to conduct maritime surveillance, gather enemy battle information, battle 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 supports missions including battle damage assessment, maritime interdiction, anti-surface warfare, battle-space management and targeting missions for the navy.
The programme is managed by the US Navy's Program Executive Office (Unmanned Aviation and Strike Weapons) and the Persistent Maritime Unmanned Aircraft Systems Program Office.
The US Navy's Fifth Fleet is currently using Northrop-built Block 10 RQ-4 BAMS demonstrator, equipped with maritime sensors, which provides full persistent capabilities glimpse of the Triton's 360° multi-function active sensor (MFAS) radar.
Image: Northrop Grumman-built MQ-4C UAS is powered by Rolls-Royce AE3007H engine. Photo: file image.