Northrop Grumman and the U.S. Navy launched an unmanned aerial vehicle for its maiden test flight Wednesday for a program that calls for 68 aircraft.
The MQ-4C Triton took off from Northrop’s Palmdale headquarters in California at 7:10 a.m. Pacific time and flew for one-and-a-half hours, the company said Wednesday.
Mike Mackey, Northrop Grumman Triton UAS deputy program director, said the goal of the test flight was to demonstrate the drone’s flight control systems.
Triton will undergo more test flights ahead of its transfer to the Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md. later this year.
“First flight represents a critical step in maturing Triton’s systems before operationally supporting the Navy’s maritime surveillance mission around the world,” said Capt. James Hoke, Triton program manager with Naval Air Systems Command.
Northrop developed Triton to perform long-haul surveillance missions in ocean and coastal areas, as well as cover nearly 2,300 miles within 24 hours at 10-mile altitudes or greater.
Triton contains sensors intended to help military commanders classify ships by using high-resolution imagery.
Team members for the project include:
- Aurora Flight Sciences
- BAE Systems
- Curtis-Wright Corp.
- L3 Communications
- Sierra Nevada Corp.
- Vought Aircraft Industries