The US Navy has completed the first flight of its MQ-4C Triton UAS, equipped with a new search radar, over Patuxent River air space.

Known as the Multi-Function Active Sensor (MFAS), the radar will provide a 360-degree view of a large geographic area to help the navy improve its maritime domain awareness.

The MFAS features all-weather coverage suitable for expedite detecting, classifying, tracking and identifying points of interest.

During the initial test, the MFAS used its primary operating mode called the maritime surface surveillance (MSS) that enables continuous watch over a broad area.

Triton programme manager Sean Burke said: "This first sensor flight is a huge achievement for the programme.

"Our navy and Northrop Grumman team has worked extremely hard on this developmental effort, completing more than 40 surrogate flights over the last three years, and we saw the realisation of that development work."

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Once operational, the MQ-4C Triton UAS will provide round-the-clock ISR coverage across the world.

"Our primary objective was to test this new radar, but we also looked at how the aircraft performed as well as testing additional data links."

The navy will be able to enhance its intelligence collection with the MQ-4C because of its ability to remain at high altitudes improving and bringing an unprecedented level of maritime domain awareness to the warfighter.

Government flight test director and senior Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 20 representative supporting the Triton integrated test team lieutenant commander Glenn Rioux said: "Our primary objective was to test this new radar, but we also looked at how the aircraft performed as well as testing additional data links.

"This was a successful flight on many levels. We are still reviewing the data and actively planning our next text event."

The MQ-4C will also be equipped with an electro-optical / infrared (EO/IR) sensor for still imagery and full-motion video of potential threats.

In addition, its electronic support measures package will help in identifying and geolocating radar threat signals and the automatic identification system (AIS) will detect and track vessels equipped with AIS responders.

Image: The US Navy’s MQ-4C Triton UAS has completed its inaugural flight equipped with MFAS search radar. Photo: courtesy of Naval Air Systems Command.