Team Checking Control Software, Subsystems Prior To Beginning Flight Operations
The U.S. Navy and Northrop Grumman added a second Triton unmanned aircraft to ground testing efforts in late September – part of an initial step in preparation for flight operations. Two Triton unmanned aircraft systems are being used to flight test and mature the system for operational use. Ground testing allows the team to further reduce risks associated with control software and subsystems prior to flight.
The first Triton entered ground testing in July after production concluded in June. "Ground testing signifies our steady progress toward conducting Triton's first flight," said Steve Enewold, Northrop Grumman's vice president and program manager for Triton. "Through numerous engine runs and checks with communications systems between the aircraft and ground controllers, we can ensure that everything is working properly before entering taxi testing as the next step in our efforts."
Northrop Grumman is the prime contractor to the Navy's MQ-4C Triton Broad Area Maritime Surveillance program. In 2008, the company was awarded a systems development and demonstration contract to build two aircraft and test them in preparation for operational missions by late 2015. The Navy's program of record calls for 68 Tritons to be built.
Triton provides a detailed picture of surface vessels to identify threats across vast areas of ocean and littoral areas. With its ability to fly missions up to 24 hours, Triton complements many manned surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft.