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MQ-4C Triton

The MQ-4C Triton is a Department of Defense (DoD) Acquisition Category (ACAT) 1D program that received approval from the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics (USD(AT&L)) to enter System Development and Demonstration (SDD) in April 2008. Following a full and open competition, Northrop Grumman Corporation was selected as the best overall value solution to meet the Navy's persistent maritime intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) requirements.

The MQ-4C Triton will be a forward deployed, land-based, autonomously operated system that provides a persistent maritime ISR capability using a multi-sensor mission payload (maritime radar, Electro-Optical/Infrared (EO/IR), Electronic Support Measures (ESM), Automatic Identification System (AIS) and basic communications relay). The MQ-4C Triton air vehicle is based upon the United States Air Force (USAF) RQ-4B Global Hawk, while its sensors are based upon components of (or entire systems) already fielded in the DoD inventory. Along with the P-8A manned aircraft, the MQ-4C Triton is integral to the Navy's Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Force (MPRF) Family of Systems (FoS) airborne ISR recapitalization strategy. The MPRF is the operational agent for the MQ-4C Triton and Commander, Patrol and Reconnaissance Group (CPRG) is the fleet sponsor for the manned/unmanned integration concept. The MQ-4C Triton's ability to perform persistent ISR within a range of 2,000 nm allows the P-8A aircraft to focus on their core missions, Anti-Surface Ship Warfare (ASuW)/weapons employment and Multi-Intelligence (INT) operations respectively. The MPRF manned/unmanned Concept of Operations (CONOPS) will also potentially leverage USAF RQ-4 cross-platform training, operational, basing and support synergies which will result in the most effective and efficient means of providing maritime ISR capability to the fleet.

The MQ-4C Triton will provide combat information to operational and tactical users such as the Expeditionary Group (ESG), Carrier Strike Group (CSG) and the Joint Forces Maritime Component Commander (JFMCC). MQ-4C Triton will provide intelligence preparation of the environment by providing a more continuous source of information to maintain the Common Operational and Tactical Picture (COTP) of the maritime battle space. Additionally, MQ-4C Triton-collected data posted to the Global Information Grid (GIG) will support a variety of intelligence activities and nodes. In a secondary role, the MQ-4C Triton will also be used alone or in conjunction with other assets to respond to theater-level operational or national strategic tasking.

General Characteristics
Primary Function: Persistent Maritime ISR
Builder: Northrop Grumman
Propulsion: Rolls-Royce AE3007H
Endurance: 24 + hours
Length: 47.6 feet (14.5 meters)
Wingspan: 130.9 feet (39.9 meters)
Height: 15.4 feet (4.7 meters)
Speed: 320 knots (approximately 368 mph)
Range: 8,200 nautical miles (15,186.4 km); max unrefueled range
Crew: four per ground station (Air Vehicle Operator, Tactical Coordinator, two Mission Payload Operators)
Load: Communications relay capability, beyond line of sight and line of sight communications and the following 360-degree Field Of Regard (FOR) sensors: Multi-Function Active Sensor (MFAS) Maritime Radar, Electro-Optical / Infrared (EO/IR) sensor, Automatic Identification System (AIS) receiver and Electronic Support Measures (ESM)
Last Update: 15 February 2017
Photo: Triton unmanned aircraft system completed its first flight from the
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