Northrop Grumman has obtained approval from Defense Department acquisition chief Frank Kendall to begin low-rate initial production of the company’s MQ-4C Triton unmanned aircraft system for the U.S. Navy‘s surveillance operations.
The Navy said Friday the milestone C decision represents the beginning of the production and deployment stage of the Triton UAS program.
Sean Burke, Triton program manager at the Navy, noted the aircraft is equipped with a sensor package designed to help the military branch collect and disseminate intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance data.
Prior to approval, Northrop teamed up with the branch’s VX-1, VX-20 and VUP-19 squadrons to test the sensor imagery and performance of the MQ-4C at various ranges and latitudes, the company said Monday.
The MQ-4C worked to transfer full-motion video to a Boeing-built P-8A Poseidon aircraft as well as met flight duration requirements during operational assessment tests.
Northrop designed the UAS to autonomously perform persistent ISR functions within a 2,000-nautical-mile range with the aircraft’s multisensor mission payload comprised of maritime radar, electro-optical/infrared, electronic support measures, automatic identification and basic communications relay systems.