Triton Try-Outs

The Navy’s Broad Area Maritime Surveillance version of the Global Hawk, the MQ-4C Triton, began its final series of operational tests to clear it for low-rate initial production, Naval Air Systems Command anno?unced. “We worked very hard to demonstrate system performance and stability leading up to the start of operational assessment,” Program Manager Sean Burke said in a release. Triton began a series of six test flights from NAS Patuxent River, Md., that will test each of its main missions—surveillance, surface and amphibious warfare support, as well as strategic, humanitarian, and civil-support missions, according to the release. The Pentagon will make a decision to clear Northrop Grumman to begin initial production based on the outcome of the trials early next year. The Navy plans to take delivery of three production MQ-4Cs next year, and eventually procure a total of 68 Tritons to provide forward-deployed ISR in support of its fleets worldwide, with an initial capability from 2017. Triton began the two-month test phase on Nov. 17.