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MQ-4C Triton- The Future of Maritime Patrol

Written by on Wednesday, June 12th, 2013

With the recent carrier launch of the X-47 and now the first flight of the MQ-4C Triton, the U.S. Navy has sailed into the world of unmanned aerial vehicles and is committed to its future.

On 22 May 2013, the MQ-4C Triton Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) launched from Northrop Grumman’s Palmdale, California plant and remained airborne for 80 minutes in a series of envelope expansion test points. The MQ-4C Triton is the first UAS assigned high altitude maritime surveillance and augment other manned systems like the aging P-3C Orion and the new P-8A Poseidon. With a loiter time of over 24 hours and an average cruising altitude of 56,000 feet, the MQ-4C was designed for long endurance patrol flights. The wingspan of the MQ-4C Triton is over 130 feet and it’s powered by a Rolls Royce engine that provides thrust for a 32,250 lbs Gross Weight Takeoff (GWTO). The heart of the MQ-4C Triton is the Multifunction Active Sensor (MFAS) radar that is currently being cheap cialis buy online flown as a risk reduction in a Gulfstream 2. The MFAS is designed for maritime detection, track and classification using maritime search, inverse synthetic aperture (ISAR) and SAR modes.

The MQ-4C Triton is the maritime version of the Global Hawk currently being operated by the U.S. Air Force. The Air Force is looking to terminate the Global Hawk program and has stopped further purchases of the UAS and there are plans in work to “mothball” the existing Global Hawks. The U.S. Air Force is frustrated with the unit costs and operating costs of the Global Hawk and are pushing to reallocate the $500 million to keep operational squadrons flying during the budget crunch.

The MQ-4C Triton brings a tremendous capability to the Navy’s maritime mission and provides a persistent surveillance that it currently doesn’t have. With a renewed focus on the Asia-Pacific region, the U.S. Navy should be well equipped to react to any threat or potential threat that materializes with the MQ-4C Triton.

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