The US Navy’s Northrop Grumman-built MQ-4C Triton unmanned aircraft system (UAS) has demonstrated two key capabilities during flight tests conducted earlier this month.
The capabilities are expected to further improve future fleet operations.
During a flight test, the MQ-4C Triton demonstrated interoperability by successfully exchanging full motion video feedback with the P-8A Poseidon using a common data link (CDL) for the first time in-flight.
It also proved its capability to create situational awareness for P-8 aircrew by tracking a target with its electro-optical / infrared digital camera.
Triton integrated programme team lead commander Daniel Papp said: "In an operational environment, this would enable the P-8 aircrew to become familiar with a contact of interest and surrounding vessels well in advance of the aircraft’s arrival in station."
As part of the Triton UAS programme, the aircraft also completed its first heavy weight flight, during which it operated within the 20,000ft altitude band.
In a second heavy weight flight, Triton operated within the 30,000ft altitude band.
Papp added: "The heavy weight envelope expansion work will enable Triton to realise its long dwell capability and become the unblinking eye for the fleet."
The MQ-4C Triton is a new broad area maritime surveillance (BAMS) UAS designed to fly missions of up to 24 hours at altitudes of over ten miles high, and simultaneously monitor two million square miles of ocean and littoral areas.
To date, Triton has logged in more than 455 flight hours and is set to undergo further testing at Patuxent River in preparation for its first planned deployment in 2018.
Image: MQ-4C Triton will enhance the US Navy’s future fleet operations. Photo: courtesy of Naval Air Systems Command.