Northrop Grumman details Triton radar development progress
Northrop Grumman is in the midst of risk-reduction tests of the Multi-Function Active Sensor (MFAS) to be installed on the US Navy’s Triton unmanned aircraft system (UAS). So far more than 25 flights have been conducted on the sensor using a Gulfstream II surrogate aircraft off the California coast.
The MFAS is to be the primary maritime surveillance sensor on Triton, and will provide a 360-degree view of ocean and coastal regions. The active, electronically and mechanically scanned array radar uses a combination of electronic scanning with a mechanical rotation, allowing the radar to spotlight a geographic area of interest for longer periods. This method increases detection capabilities for smaller targets, particularly in sea clutter.
Triton's full sensor suite will allow areas up to 2,000 nautical miles to be monitored at a time. The MFAS radar data along with other onboard information will be provided to mission operators on the ground and directly to maritime forces.
Mike Mackey, Triton UAS program director, Northrop Grumman, said: ‘Surrogate flights have allowed us to mature the MFAS radar's capabilities and merge the data with information received from other sensors and equipment that will also be used on Triton. By gathering this information in real and simulated environments, we can refine how an operator sees data while tasking the system in flight.
‘These development tests will demonstrate the range, resolution and speed at which MFAS can detect different targets. We will be well prepared to install MFAS on Triton once surrogate flight tests conclude.’
Northrop Grumman is prime contractor for the US Navy on the Triton UAS programme, and will develop the system's capabilities through 2016. The aircraft completed its first flight in May.
Sixty-eight Triton UAS will be built under the current programme to replace the navy's aging patrol aircraft and work alongside the new P-8 Poseidon manned surveillance aircraft.
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