Northrop Grumman Delivers Fourth Triton to US Navy for Initial Operational Capability

Share on

Northrop Grumman Corporation delivered the fourth multi-intelligence MQ-4C Triton to the US Navy ahead of initial operational capability (IOC) this year. The delivery completes the set of aircraft for Unmanned Patrol Squadron (VUP) 19’s establishment of the first operational orbit, while a second orbit is preparing for delivery this summer.

With three orbits planned around the globe, the Triton multi-intelligence uncrewed aircraft will provide 24/7 unprecedented maritime awareness.

Northrop Grumman’s MQ-4C Triton unmanned aircraft system (UAS) provides real-time intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) over vast ocean and coastal regions.

Based on the proven Global Hawk UAS, Triton’s autonomous operations are supported by land-based command and control mission planners and sensor operators. Triton will be equipped with a unique and robust mission sensor suite that provides 360-degree coverage on all sensors, providing unprecedented maritime domain awareness for the US Navy.

Triton also incorporates a reinforced airframe, for increased internal payload, and wing for hail, bird strike, and gust load protection, along with de-icing and lightning protection systems. These features allow the aircraft to descend and ascend through harsh maritime weather environments to gain a closer view of ships and other targets at sea when needed.

Triton will support a wide range of missions including maritime ISR patrol, signals intelligence, search and rescue and communications relay. The aircraft can fly over 24 hours at a time, at altitudes higher than 10 miles (~16 km), with an operational range of 8,200 nautical miles (~15,186 km).

The US Navy’s programme of record calls for 68 aircraft to be fielded.

Australia’s first MQ-4C Triton autonomous aircraft was unveiled on Sept 14, 2022 during a ceremony at its high-altitude, long-endurance (HALE) aircraft production site in California. The event, attended by Australian, US government and defence officials, highlights the continued progress of the MQ-4C Triton programme for both the Royal Australian Air Force and US Navy.

Australia is a cooperative programme partner in the Triton programme and was critical in helping shape the requirements for the system. As partners, US and Australian defence forces will be able to share data collected by their respective Tritons, a critical ability in one of the world’s most strategically important regions. 

Northrop Grumman initiated the build of the first Australian Triton in October 2020 at its production facility in Moss Point, Miss., and met another major production milestone in December 2021 when the fuselage and one-piece wing were mated in Palmdale, Calif. The aircraft is scheduled for production completion in 2023 and delivery to Australia in 2024.–ng/adj/mhi (Pix: Northrop Grumman)