You Tube – MQ-4C Triton
Est. US$ Cost
RR AE3007 turbofan
47 ft. 7 in.
130 ft. 11 in.
The MQ-4C Triton, produced by Northrop Grumman, is a High Altitude, Long Endurance (HALE) drone aircraft built to perform under harsh salt water conditions. The aircraft’s mission is to detect, identify, track, and classify ocean vessels. The Multi-Function Active Sensor (MFAS) with active electronically scanned array radar, Electro-Optic Infrared, Electronic Support Measures and Automatic Identification System give the aircraft a 360 degree field of observation.
The MQ-4C Triton has dual redundant flight controls and surfaces for increased survivability, plus a 51,000 hour airframe life for increased longevity. The aircraft utilizes enhanced maritime sensor suite, gust loads, hail, bird strikes and lightning protection. The engine inlet has anti-icing to allow the aircraft to descend and climb through harsh maritime weather environments to gain a closer view of ships and other targets.
The wingspan of the MQ-4C Triton is longer than that of some commercial airliners. Its wings can withstand wind gusts up to 40 percent higher than can ever be expected.
Once operational, MQ-4C Triton missions will be capable of covering the equivalent area of all the earth’s oceans 61 times a year. The aircraft are expected to provide over 55,000 annual flight hours to the U.S. Navy fleet. That’s 1.2 million hours of continuous maritime Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) during its 20 years life expectancy.
Initial Operational Capability (IOC) for the MQ-4C Triton was achieved in 2018. It is expected that Full Operating Capability (FOC) will be reached in 2023. The U.S. Navy eventually expects to deploy 68 MQ-4C Triton aircraft. Australia has placed an order for six MQ-4C Triton aircraft.
March 12, 2020: The U.S. Naval Air Systems Command awarded Northrop Grumman US$86,225,713 “to provide sustainment, engineering, logistics and test support for MQ-4C Triton aircraft mission control and operator training systems. In addition, this effort includes procurement of field service representative’s technical support to ensure that the MQ-4C Triton unmanned surveillance aircraft are mission-capable for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions supporting early operational capability”. Work should be finished by of March 2021.