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MQ-4C Triton completes first flight in multi-intelligence configuration


A Northrop Grumman-built MQ-4C Triton took to the skies for the first time in the highly upgraded multi-intelligence configuration known as integrated functional capability four (IFC-4). Triton is the U.S. Navy’s premier high-altitude, long-endurance (HALE), maritime intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) platform.

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MQ 4C Triton completes first flight in multi intelligence configuration Northrop Grumman-built MQ-4C Triton is the U.S. Navy’s premier high-altitude, long-endurance (HALE), maritime intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) platform (Picture source: U.S. Navy)


“The multi-intelligence configuration of Triton will completely revolutionize how the U.S. Navy and Royal Australian Air Force conduct maritime patrol and reconnaissance missions,” said Doug Shaffer, vice president and program manager, Triton programs, Northrop Grumman. “Multi-intelligence capabilities, coupled with Triton’s long-range sensors and 24-hour endurance, will enable an unprecedented amount of maritime situational awareness to inform real-time decision making at tactical to strategic levels.”

Northrop Grumman is working closely with the U.S. Navy to progress Triton toward initial operating capability (IOC) and world-wide deployments. The multi-intelligence configuration will also enable the Navy to retire the EP-3E Aries as Triton will be able to assume the intelligence collection missions currently conducted by the Aries.

“This hugely important milestone for our Triton Multi-INT program is the culmination of over five years of intense engineering, integration and test, and represents the efforts of the hundreds of team members who have worked so tirelessly to achieve this Herculean task,” said Capt. Dan Mackin, Persistent Maritime Unmanned Aircraft Systems program manager. “The Multi-INT capability that the U.S. Navy and Royal Australian Air Force have procured through Northrop Grumman, our Naval Warfare Centers and our GFE partners is like no other – 360-degree AESA maritime radar, full-motion EO/IR video streaming, high-altitude, long-endurance, full-spectrum signals intelligence and the pipes to send multiple data types to ships, aircraft and intelligence community ground stations allow our forces to hold adversaries at risk and protect the peace which is so vital to our national interest.”

The U.S. Navy is currently operating two Tritons in the Pacific region in the baseline configuration as part of an early operational capability deployment. The Triton program expects to achieve IOC in 2023, and the Navy will eventually maintain five 24/7 operational orbits with a planned 68-aircraft program of record.

Northrop Grumman’s family of autonomous high-altitude, long-endurance systems perform critical wide-area ISR collection. Today, autonomous HALE systems operate across the globe, with greater than 24-hour endurance, collecting essential ISR data over land and sea to enable rapid, informed decision-making. In the future, these systems will connect the joint force, implementing advanced autonomy and artificial intelligence/machine learning while delivering indispensable capabilities with fewer people to provide information at the speed of relevance.