The MQ-4C Triton: Poseidon’s Unmanned Herald
August 17/17: An early operational capability MQ-4C Triton UAV is expected to be delivered to the US Navy next month, slightly later than its planned August delivery date. The news comes as Northrop commended taxi tests this week ahead of moving the aircraft to NAS Point Mugu, California, where it will conduct its first flight. The baseline Triton, also known as the integrated function capability 3 configuration, will come equipped with Northop’s multifunction active sensor (MFAS), a maritime patrol version of active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, and Northrop will deliver two baseline Triton aircraft, B5 and B6, to NAS Point Mugu. After Triton reaches early operational capability in fiscal year 2018, Northrop has its eye on initial operational capability in 2021. The company also plan to add a signals intelligence capability, which will bring it on par with the navy’s manned EP-3 reconnaissance fleet.
The world’s P-3 Orion fleets have served for a long time, and many are reaching the end of their lifespans. In the USA, and possibly beyond, the new P-8 Poseidon Multi-mission Maritime Aircraft will take up the P-3’s role. While the P-8’s base 737-based airframe offers strong service & maintenance arguments in its favor, the airframe is expensive enough that the P-3s cannot be replaced on a 1:1 basis.
In order to extend the P-8 fleet’s reach, and provide additional capabilities, the Poseidon was expected to work with at least one companion UAV platform. This DID FOCUS Article explains the winning BAMS (Broad Area Maritime Surveillance) concept, the program’s key requirements, and its international angle. We’ll also cover ongoing contracts and key events related to the program, which chose Northrop Grumman’s navalized MQ-4C Triton Global Hawk variant.
Next-Gen Maritime Patrol Systems: Issues and Options
BAMS: Requirements and Missions
BAMS: The MQ-4C Triton
BAMS: The Program
BAMS: The International Angle
BAMS: Contracts & Key Events
FY 2016 – 2017
FY 2012 – 2013
FY 2010 – 2011
FY 2008 – 2009
FY 2007 and Earlier
Additional Readings & Sources
Background: BAMS/ Triton and Key Ancillaries
News & Views
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