The U.S. Navy added to its growing fleet of developmental Triton unmanned-aircraft-system (UAS) vehicles with a $248 million contract modification to a previous fixed-price-incentive contract to Northrop Grumman Systems Corp. The contract modification enables the Navy to procure two additional low-rate-initial-production Lot 5 MQ-4C Triton UAS vehicles (see figure) for real-time intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) over wide ocean and coastal regions.
Initial operational capability (IOC) on the Triton was achieved in 2018. Work on these latest aircraft will be performed in San Diego, Calif.
Based on Northrop Grumman’s RQ-4 Global Hawk UAS, the Tritons offer highly autonomous operation with dual available support from land-based command and control units. It features an active electronically scanned sensor array for full 360-degree coverage on all sensors. Its commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) open architecture is constructed with a reinforced airframe that maintains 51,000-hour airframe life to handle large payloads.
With reinforced wings, the unmanned aircraft can ascend and descend rapidly even through harsh weather conditions. It's designed for 24-hour/day, 7-day/week duty and can fly at altitudes of greater than 10 miles for over 8,200 nautical miles.
The Triton UAS was developed under the Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS) program to detect and identify the speed, location, and classification of adversary aircraft. It incorporates lightning-protection systems for high-altitude flight and deicing systems to support agile motion above and below cloud coverage. The latest two vehicles under contract will be part of a fleet of 68 total Triton vehicles managed by the Navy.