Triton UAV ground testing efforts continue
Northrop Grumman has announced that a second Triton unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) has been added to ground testing efforts being carried out with the US Navy. This latest milestone was reached in late September, and is part of an initial step in preparation for flight operations.
The first Triton, being developed for the US Navy’s MQ-4C Triton Broad Area Maritime Surveillance programme, entered ground testing in July after production concluded in June. The two Triton UAS are being used to flight test and mature the system for operational use. Ground testing allows the team to further reduce risks associated with control software and subsystems prior to flight.
Northrop Grumman is the prime contractor for the programme. The company was awarded a systems development and demonstration contract in 2008 to build two aircraft and test them in preparation for operational missions by late 2015. The navy’s programme of record calls for 68 Tritons to be built in total.
The Tritan aircraft will be used to provide a detailed picture of surface vessels to identify threats across vast areas of ocean and littoral areas. With its ability to fly missions up to 24 hours, Triton will complement existing manned surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft.
Steve Enewold, Northrop Grumman's vice president and program manager for Triton, said: ‘Ground testing signifies our steady progress toward conducting Triton's first flight. 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.’
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