Northrop Grumman is set to hand over this year two MQ-4C Triton unmanned aircraft systems to the U.S. Navy as the service intends to replace its fleet of P-3C Orion and EP-3E Aries II aircraft that work to perform maritime intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions, the Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday.
The Navy will test the two Triton drones at Point Mugu Naval Air Station in California before it deploys the unmanned platforms to Guam in 2018.
MQ-4C is designed to fly over the ocean surface for up to 24 hours and help the Boeing-built P-8 Poseidon aircraft detect submarines and surface ships.
Northrop is contracted to hand over 68 Tritons to Navy and is expected to deliver an updated version of the drone by 2020.
The Triton program is slated to enter the full-rate production phase in 2021.
Doug Shaffer, vice president and program manager for Triton at Northrop, said the company plans to integrate a sense-and-avoid radar platform into the drone’s future upgrade.