The Navy’s MQ-4C Triton remotely piloted aircraft completed its first flight, announced prime contractor Northrop Grumman. The hour-and-a-half flight took place over Palmdale, Calif., on May 22. “Triton is the most advanced intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance unmanned aircraft system ever designed for use across vast ocean areas and coastal regions,” said Mike Mackey, Northrop Grumman’s Triton deputy program director, in a company release. The high-altitude, long-endurance platform, a variant of the RQ-4 Global Hawk that the Air Force operates, is designed to fly missions up 24 hours at altitudes of more than 10 miles, spanning 2,000 nautical miles in range. Its sensor suite is meant to “gather high-resolution imagery, use radar to detect targets, and provide airborne communications and information-sharing capabilities,” states the release. The RPA is scheduled to fly to NAS Patuxent River, Md., later this year after completing additional flight tests in California. The Navy plans to procure 68 Tritons.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.