Military Periscope Logo

MQ-4C Triton

Country of Origin: USA


In service. Navy plans call for the purchase of 68 operational Triton aircraft through 2027.

Four MQ-4C Tritons are expected to based at Guam, alongside Air Force Global Hawks. Another four will be stationed at Sigonella, Italy, and four more with 5th Fleet in Bahrain. Another four each are expected to be based at Beale Air Force Base, Calif., and Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Fla. The Navy has also considered setting up another base in the Western Pacific for its MQ-4Cs.



The Navy completed a preliminary design review for the Triton with Northrop Grumman in February 2010.

Flight International reported on April 14, 2010, that Northrop Grumman was developing a plan to increase the commonality between the Air Force RQ-4 Global Hawk and the Navy MQ-4C Triton. Possible changes included blending Navy-funded improvements into the Global Hawk 's ground-control station and flight safety features, with the services sharing a production line for the UAV. The Navy planned to buy 70 Tritons for US$12.5 billion (including two test aircraft), while the Air Force was expected to procure 77 RQ-4s for US$13.7 billion. Northrop Grumman planned to ensure the ground-control stations were compatible. The Triton features a strengthened wing and anti-icing systems in the wing leading edges and vertical tails to provide additional safety and enable the UAV to rapidly descend to low altitude to identify ships spotted on radar.

On June 12, 2010, the Air Force and Navy signed a memorandum of agreement to maximize commonality, eliminate redundant efforts and increase interoperability between the RQ-4 and MQ-4C systems. The accord directed specific actions to develop an integrated training, maintenance and operational approach based on similarities between the platforms. The objective was to maximize efficiencies in personnel, equipment and training, while reducing overall costs, officials said. The agreement also directed the Global Hawk and Triton programs to consider options for joint Air Force and Navy squadron organizations; joint basing; squadron-level consolidated maintenance facilities; and joint aircraft command-and-control and training.

Northrop Grumman marked the start of construction on the first MQ-4 Triton fuselage at its Moss Point, Miss., facility on Sept. 1, 2010.


On May 29, 2012, the Naval Air Systems Command awarded Northrop Grumman a US$32.8 million contract modification in support of system development and demonstration of the MQ-4C UAV. This modification covered a maintenance concept change that would allow for the development of a logistics management system and implement the transition from contractor logistics support to organic military maintenance, according to a Dept. of Defense release. Work under the contract was scheduled to be completed in September 2015.

Northrop Grumman unveiled the first MQ-4C Triton broad area maritime surveillance (BAMS) aircraft in a ceremony on June 14, 2012, at the company's facility in Palmdale, Calif. On the same day, the Navy announced the aircraft would be named "Triton," in keeping with the tradition of naming surveillance aircraft after Greek sea gods. (Triton was the messenger of the sea in Greek mythology.) The aircraft that was rolled out was one of two test articles being produced in advance of a projected order for 68 UAVs. The second was slated to be completed about a month later, according to Northrop Grumman.


On Jan. 6, 2014, Northrop Grumman reported that it had completed nine initial flight tests of the MQ-4C Triton in cooperation with the Navy. The milestone marked the halfway point in the process of envelope expansion, with a total of 46 flight hours completed. The trials evaluated the aircraft's ability to operate at a range of altitudes, speeds and weights. During the initial flights, the Triton completed flights of up to 9.4 hours at altitudes of 50,000 ft (15,240 m). The aircraft also performed maneuvers that tested its ability to recover from small perturbations in its flight path caused by turbulence.

Initial envelope expansion testing was expected to be completed by late February 2014. Northrop Grumman then planned to install sensors and communications equipment. A second aircraft was expected to be ready to fly by March or April 2014. By May 2014, a software update would be completed, according to Northrop Grumman. The first Triton was expected to be deployed to NAS Patuxent River, Md., by the end of June 2014. A year-long operational assessment was anticipated to start by the end of 2014. Six to eight months of initial operational test and evaluation work should be completed in 2017.

Northrop Grumman officials also indicated that the company had largely resolved previous issues with the Triton's sense-and-avoid radar and mission-management computer. Wing manufacturing issues were also addressed after "voids and wrinkles" were discovered during bonding of layers inside the aircraft's wing.

The U.S. defense authorization legislation for fiscal 2014 required the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff to study if it was "feasible, affordable and advisable" to equip the MQ-4C with a ground-moving target indication (GMTI) capability similar to that found on the RQ-4B Block 40 Global Hawk, reported Flight International for Jan. 14, 2014. Northrop Grumman said that a GMTI mode could be incorporated into the Triton's existing radar or added elsewhere.

The DoD Buzz blog reported on Feb. 28, 2014, that the Navy planned to station its first squadron of MQ-4C Tritons in Guam by the end of 2017. Other planned bases for the UAVs were said to be in the eastern and western U.S., a Middle East location and in Sicily, Italy.

Gen. Volker Wieker, the German chief of defense staff, approved the procurement of MQ-4C Triton UAVs to meet airborne signals intelligence requirements on March 6, 2014, reported Jane's Defence Weekly. Equipped with the Airbus Integrated Signal Intelligence System (ISIS) originally intended for the canceled Euro Hawk UAV, the Triton would fill the capability gap left with the retirement of the BR1150 Atlantic SIGINT aircraft in 2010. The plans called for the acquisition of three Tritons, with the goal of entering service in the mid-2020s.

On March 13, 2014, the Australian government announced plans to procure MQ-4C Triton systems, subject to the successful conclusion of the U.S. Navy development program. The Triton was selected for the uncrewed component of the Australian navy's two-phased P-3C Orion replacement program, reported Flight International. Canberra previously announced plans to acquire eight to 12 P-8A Poseidons. Australian Tritons would conduct most of the broad area surveillance missions over the northern maritime approaches to the country and coastal regions, freeing up the P-8 for dedicated anti-submarine and surface warfare, search-and-rescue and electronic intelligence missions. The government did not announce how many Tritons might be acquired. The requirement was said to be six to eight MQ-4Cs, with service entry planned for 2020. The Triton ground support element would be located at RAAF Edinburgh, along with the P-8s. The base would need about Aus$140 million (US$127 million) of new infrastructure to support the Triton. The uncrewed aircraft would likely be forward-deployed at bases in northern and northwestern Australia.

The Navy completed initial flight testing of the Triton at Northrop Grumman's facility in Palmdale on March 13, 2014. The initial envelope expansion trials measured the aircraft's performance at different speeds and altitudes. The testing was completed in 13 of the scheduled 14 flights. The Triton completed 81 flight hours and reached a maximum altitude of 59,950 ft (18,270 m) during the trials.

Aviation Week & Space Technology for May 12, 2014, reported that two Tritons were scheduled to make their first flight in June 2014 prior to ferrying to NAS Patuxent River along with a third aircraft. The air vehicles would then receive the AN/ZPY-3 MFAS radar for integrated trials. The radar had previously been undergoing testing on a Gulfstream III testbed. At the time, the Navy planned an early operational capability with two air vehicles in 2017. An operational assessment of the MQ-4C was anticipated in the fourth quarter of 2014, officials said.

The Florida Times-Union (Jacksonville) reported on Aug. 4, 2014, that the Navy's only MQ-4C Triton training center and first operational squadron, Unmanned Patrol Squadron 19 (VUP-19), would be based at Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Fla. The US$15.9 million, 31,000-sq-ft (2,880-sq-m) mission control center was still under construction at the time. The Triton UAS Operator Training Facility was nearing completion. That facility was expected to train around 100 sailors annually.

The second U.S. Navy MQ-4C made its first flight on Oct. 15, 2014. The air vehicle flew for 6.7 hours from Northrop Grumman's Palmdale facility. It was scheduled to be ferried to NAS Patuxent River later in October 2014.

Flight International for Nov. 11, 2014, reported that the Naval Air Systems Command had released a solicitation for a new air-to-air radar for the Triton that would help the air vehicle detect other aircraft and avoid collisions. The move came a year after the Navy canceled development of an Exelis sense-and-avoid system. The new program included less ambitious performance requirements. These included the expectation that the Triton would receive data from ground radar as it approached an airport, since air-to-air radars could be confused by ground clutter at lower altitudes. The radar design should also be modular and scalable to enable improvements as operational and air traffic requirements change. The new system should also provide an initial sense-and-avoid function in the form of due regard capability, said the solicitation.


Northrop Grumman reported on Feb. 16, 2016, that the MQ-4C had successfully completed its operational assessment. The trials evaluated the various sensor systems onboard the air vehicle over 60 flight hours. The Triton also demonstrated its ability to meet the Navy's flight duration requirements. The milestone paved the way for a Milestone C decision, which would start low-rate initial production, the company said.

The Naval Air Systems Command awarded Northrop Grumman a US$62.4 million contract on June 2, 2016, for operation and maintenance services in support of the BAMS-D program. Work was scheduled to be completed in June 2017.

Also on June 2, 2016, an MQ-4C Triton and P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft successfully exchanged full-motion video for the first time in flight over a common data link. The test demonstrated the ability of the Triton to track a target with its electro-optical/infrared sensors to build situational awareness for a distant P-8 aircraft, according to a release from the Naval Air Systems Command. The Triton was designed to conduct persistent intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions within a range of 2,000 nm to enable the P-8A aircraft to focus on core missions.

A pair of test flights later in June 2016 completed the Triton's first heavyweight flight, which would significantly expand the air vehicle's estimated time on station. During the first flight, the Triton flew at 20,000 ft (6,100 m) in the heavyweight configuration for the first time. A second flight on June 14 involved operations at 30,000 ft (9,140 m), said NAVAIR. Plans called for additional testing up to the Triton's maximum operational altitude of 60,000 ft (18,290 m), reported USNI News. The Triton had completed more than 455 flight hours at the time.

As of Aug. 23, 2016, the three MQ-4C test aircraft had completed 82 flight-test events, totaling 509 flight hours. The longest flight at the time had lasted 12.2 hours, reported Seapower magazine for October 2016.

On Sept. 22, 2016, the Dept. of the Navy announced that the MQ-4C Triton had received Milestone C approval, permitting the start of low-rate production. The system was scheduled to deploy for the first time in fiscal 2018, according to the Naval Air Systems Command. The milestone indicated that the Triton's critical technology was mature and the system development and design review phases had been successful, said a Northrop Grumman release. The full system operational assessment had validated the ability of the system to protect the fleet from evolving threats, company officials said.

Also in September 2016, the Navy decided to accelerate the delivery of the multi-intelligence configuration of the MQ-4C by fielding a single version of the Triton, eliminating the need to hold separate operational evaluations, reported Jane's International Defence Review for May 2017. The multi-intelligence configuration would replace the AN/ZLQ-1 electronic support measures with a more comprehensive suite of low- and high-band signal receivers.

The Naval Air Systems Command awarded Northrop Grumman a US$255.3 million contract modification on Sept. 27, 2016, for three low-rate initial production Lot 1 MQ-4C Tritons; one main operation control station; one forward operation control station; training; and tooling. Work was scheduled to be completed in August 2020.

Flight International reported on Sept. 29, 2016, that the U.S. Navy would review procurement quantities for the MQ-4C Triton following initial operational test and evaluation and operational deployment. The service planned to buy 70 air vehicles, with 20 aircraft for continuous patrols over five surveillance orbits and another 48 to replace attrition losses. The Navy estimated that it would lose four air vehicles per 100,000 flight hours. Earlier in the year, the Pentagon's inspector general urged the service to review the attrition rate following operational assessment and initial operational test and evaluation. The Navy was expected to soon begin its second operational assessment for the Triton. Initial operational test and evaluation was also scheduled for fiscal 2017.

Northrop Grumman received a US$49.4 million contract modification on Sept. 30, 2016, for long lead-time components, materials, parts and associated work in support of low-rate initial production Lot 2 MQ-4C Triton aircraft. Work was scheduled to be completed in September 2017.

On Oct. 17, 2016, the MQ-4C Triton completed its 100th flight. The air vehicle flew from NAS Patuxent River, said the Naval Air Systems Command.

The U.S. Navy activated its first MQ-4C squadron at NAS Jacksonville on Oct. 28, 2016. VUP-19 would receive its first Tritons in late 2017, with an inaugural deployment planned for 2018. In early 2017, a simulator would be delivered to allow squadron personnel to begin preparing for operations, reported the Navy Times. At the time, the squadron had 155 personnel at NAS Jacksonville and a detachment at NAS Point Mugu, Calif. The squadron would reach a total size of more than 500 personnel, including 72 pilots, 32 naval flight officers and 60 enlisted naval aircrew, reported Seapower for October 2016. At full strength, VUP-19 would have 527 sailors, including 30 mission crews, reported Seapower for May 2018. NAS Point Mugu would serve as the location for all maintenance training for the Triton as well as future MQ-4C operations and maintenance in support of U.S. Third Fleet, which is responsible for the eastern and northern Pacific Ocean. Aircrew would train at Patrol Squadron 30 (VP-30) in Jacksonville.

Naval Air Systems Command awarded Northrop Grumman a US$9.6 million contract on Dec. 5, 2016, for the design, development, analysis, integration, and test software associated with vehicle management software correction of deficiencies and incorporation of multi-integration configuration updates into the MQ-4C Triton system, reported the Dept. of Defense. It also provided for analysis and design concepts for integration of the integrated mission management computer Automatic Response Module based on the Triton implementation of the Airborne Collision Avoidance System Xu. Work was slated to be completed in December 2017.


Naval Air Systems Command announced on Jan. 10, 2018, that it intended to award Northrop Grumman a contract for risk-reduction work on a new sense-and-avoid technology for the MQ-4C Triton, reported Flight International for Jan. 23, 2018. The project was expected to pave the way for integration of an uncrewed variant of the Airborne Collision Avoidance System X (ACAS Xu) on the Triton in the future. Following the risk-reduction phase, NAVAIR planned to award Northrop Grumman a contract to complete an engineering change proposal for the MQ-4C that would integrate the ACAS Xu hardware and software.

On April 5, 2018, the U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency reported that the U.S. State Dept. had approved the potential sale of MQ-4C uncrewed aircraft systems to Germany. The proposed US$2.5 billion deal covered four MQ-4C Triton air vehicles; one mission control station consisting of a main operation base (MD-3A) and one forward operating base (MD-3B); 10 Kearfott INS/GPS units (two per aircraft plus two spares); and 10 LN-251 INS/GPS units (including two spares). The possible Foreign Military Sale covered a modified version of the U.S. Navy Triton configuration, the agency said.

Also included the potential deal was a spare Rolls-Royce engine; communication and support equipment; joint mission planning system GPS items; communications security equipment; and associated technical and logistics support. If procured, the MQ-4C would enhance Germany's intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities and the overall security of the European Union and NATO, said the DSCA.

Defense News reported on April 9, 2018, that the Navy did not expect to field a complete orbit of Tritons, consisting of four aircraft, until around 2021. The first two air vehicles delivered by Northrop Grumman in late 2017 for operational testing were in a baseline configuration, consisting of electro-optical sensors and radar to track maritime targets and compare tracks to Automatic Identification Systems (AIS) on ships. Data are relayed back to one of two main operating bases in the U.S. at Naval Station Mayport and Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Wash., or nearby P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft.

An orbit consists of four air vehicles: one flying out, one on station, one returning and one in maintenance, officials said.

The 7th Fleet in the Pacific was not expected to receive additional Tritons until 2021, when the Navy planned to equip the air vehicles with additional signals intelligence payloads. This multi-intelligence capability would allow the Triton to replace aging EP-3 surveillance aircraft as they were retired. The Triton was expected to achieve initial operational capability in 2021, noted USNI News.

The locations for additional MQ-4C orbits would be Sigonella, Italy; 5th Fleet in Bahrain; Mayport, Fla.; and Whidbey Island, Wash. The orbits were based on the ability of units to stand up, program officials said. At the time, around three Tritons were being produced annually. As soon as four aircraft were available, each of the orbits would be activated, said the officials.

Northrop Grumman received a US$45 million advance acquisition contract on May 16, 2018, for long lead-time components, material, parts and associated efforts needed to maintain the MQ-4C production schedule, reported the Defense Dept. Work was to be completed in January 2019.

On May 25, 2018, Defense News reported that Germany was seeking to avoid the errors that torpedoed the previous Euro Hawk (see separate record) program as it prepared to procure three MQ-4C Triton air vehicles. As it was negotiating a contract with the U.S., German officials sought to ensure there were predefined program off-ramps should the aircraft fail to receive the necessary airworthiness permits. Berlin also wanted to be able to walk away from the project if certification of the Triton's sense-and-avoid system by U.S. authorities failed to receive approval from German military inspectors. Contract negotiations for the systems, which would be known as the Pegasus (Persistent German Airborne Surveillance System), were expected to conclude in the first half of 2019. The first air vehicle was slated for service entry in 2025. German officials had argued that U.S. work on flight-safety issues was more advanced than domestic efforts and that U.S. Navy certifications would likely be applicable in Europe.

The U.S. Navy marked the formal start of MQ-4C flight operations on May 31, 2018, at Naval Base Ventura County Point Mugu, Calif. The base was home to the maintenance detachment of Unmanned Patrol Squadron 19 (VUP-19), the service's first uncrewed patrol squadron. Maintainers were conducting training and testing on the Triton ahead of its deployment to Guam later in 2018, noted a Northrop Grumman release.

The Australian Dept. of Defense announced on June 26, 2018, that the government had decided to buy six MQ-4C Tritons through a cooperative program with the U.S. Navy. An initial Aus$1.4 billion (US$1 billion) investment would cover the first air vehicle and infrastructure. Aus$364 million (US$269 million) would go toward new facilities at RAAF Base Edinburgh and RAAF Base Tindal as well as the required ground-control systems, support and training. Canberra would also enter into an Aus$200 million (US$148 million) program with the U.S. Navy for the development, production and sustainment of the MQ-4C. The first Triton was expected to enter service in mid-2023, with all six to be in service by late 2025. The Tritons would be based at RAAF Base Edinburgh, the department said.

Naval Air Systems Command awarded Northrop Grumman a US$19.3 million contract modification on July 18, 2018, to procure IFC-4 unique material for the MQ-4C, reported the Dept. of Defense. The material would be used for inline modification and retrofit work to convert the Triton to the IFC-4 configuration. Work was scheduled to be completed in July 2020.

On Sept. 24, 2018, the Naval Air Systems Command awarded Northrop Grumman a US$11.9 million contract to provide ongoing operations and maintenance efforts in support of the BAMS-D program. The deal would allow the BAMS-D aircraft system to remain fully compliant with U.S. and international air traffic control authorities by modernizing the transponder and adding the Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) capability. Work was slated to be completed in June 2020.


On Jan. 26, 2020, the Navy deployed the MQ-4C for the first time. Two Tritons arrived at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, for an early operational capability deployment focused on developing the concept of operations and gaining further experience with operating drones in a maritime environment, said a release from the U.S. Pacific Fleet. The air vehicles would be operated and maintained by VUP-19. Initial operational capability would be declared once four air vehicles were fielded with the ability to support 24/7 operations.

Defense News reported on Jan. 28, 2020, that Germany had canceled plans to purchase MQ-4C drones. The move came after officials became convinced that the air vehicles would not be able to meet the safety standards needed to operate in European airspace by 2025. The planned US$2.5 billion project had also become much more expensive than originally expected, said a defense ministry spokeswoman. Berlin planned to acquire Bombardier Global 6000 business jets to fill its signals intelligence platform requirement.

The Naval Air Systems Command awarded Northrop Grumman a US$172.4 million contract modification on Feb. 6, 2020, for two MQ-4C Triton uncrewed air systems for the Navy, a Navy main operating base and associated technical and administrative data. Work under the contract was due to be completed in January 2024.

Aviation Today reported on April 30, 2020, that the U.S. Navy fiscal 2021 budget request included an increase for the development of the IFC-4 signals intelligence (SIGINT) package for the MQ-4C Triton. The request deferred planned procurement of two drones until fiscal 2023 to allow for the maturation of IFC-4. It also included US$178.8 for Triton modernization, continued development and integration of the multi-intelligence configuration.

Northrop Grumman was awarded a US$8 million contract to build the MQ-4C Triton Network Integration Test Environment (NITE) for deployment at RAAF Base Edinburgh in South Australia, reported Australian Defence Magazine on July 15, 2020. NITE would allow the Australian air force to progress from basic continuity testing between distributed environments to an advanced integration capability development environment via server farm, network storage and virtualization. Australia’s first Triton ground-control station was scheduled to become operational in 2022, with deliveries of six MQ-4C air vehicles to begin in 2023.

The Australian Dept. of Defense announced on June 18, 2020, that it would purchase an additional MQ-4C Triton to bring its fleet to three. The additional air vehicle would improve Australia's ability to persistently patrol its maritime approaches from the north, in the southwest Pacific and south to Antarctica, officials said. Canberra planned to eventually acquire six Tritons, noted Northrop Grumman. In addition to the third drone, the Australian government had committed funding for the main operating base at RAAF Edinburgh in South Australia and a forward operating base at RAAF Tindal in the Northern Territory, the company said.

On June 25, 2020, the Naval Air Systems Command awarded Northrop Grumman a US$333.4 million contract modification for the production and delivery of three low-rate initial production MQ-4C Tritons, two main operating bases and a forward operating base in an IFC-4 and multiple-intelligence configuration for Australia. Work was to be completed by April 2025.

Naval Air Systems Command awarded Northrop Grumman a US$9 million contract modification on Sept. 22, 2020, that established the final configuration and price determination for unique material required for the MQ-4C Triton, reported the Dept. of Defense. It provided for the procurement of three IFC-4 material kits and one IFC-4 retrofit kit. The deal also added scope to support non-recurring engineering efforts associated with wing and V-tail modifications and the procurement of components and associated efforts in support of Lot 3 low-rate initial production, the Pentagon said. Work was scheduled to be completed in March 2022.


On Feb. 1, 2022, Northrop Grumman delivered the first MQ-4C upgraded to the multi-intelligence configuration to the Navy at Naval Air Station Patuxent. The IFC-4 software configuration featured an enhanced multimission sensor capability, noted the Naval News. The upgraded configuration had made its first flight at NAS Patuxent on July 29, 2021.

Northrop Grumman reported on Feb. 13, 2022, that it had demonstrated the ability of its gateway technology to link airborne and naval platforms. The airborne gateway was installed on an MQ-4C Triton flying testbed and shared fifth-generation sensor data with ground-based simulators representing an F-35 fighter, E-2D Advanced Hawkeye early warning aircraft, Aegis-equipped destroyers and carrier strike groups. The gateway integrated with radar and artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities on the Triton to significantly improve situational awareness among previously disconnected platforms, the company said. Adding the gateway to the Triton would expand data-sharing and enable faster decision-making. The trial took place in October 2021, noted Defense News.

Northrop Grumman received a US$15.1 million NAVAIR contract modification on June 14, 2022, for additional labor and material to incorporate production engineering change proposals to update MQ-4C Tritons to the IFC-4 multi-intelligence configuration for the Navy and Australia. Work was scheduled to be completed in April 2025.

On June 16, 2022, NAVAIR awarded Northrop Grumman a US$20.5 million contract modification for additional labor and material to update MQ-4C air vehicles B13 to B15 to the IFC-4 multi-intelligence configuration for the U.S. Navy. Work was to be completed in April 2023.

The Naval Air Systems Command awarded Northrop Grumman a US$248.2 million contract modification on June 22, 2022, that added scope to an existing contract for two more LRIP Lot 5 MQ-4C systems for the Navy, said a Dept. of Defense release. Work was to be completed in February 2027.

Inside the Navy reported on July 4, 2022, that the technical baseline for the IFC-4 hardware and software configuration was stable and initial operational capability for the configuration was on schedule for August 2023. Three IFC-3 aircraft had completed production and were awaiting a future retrofit to the IFC-4 standard. Another three IFC-3 air vehicles were in production and would receive engineering changes for the new configuration on the production line, officials said. The publication noted that the Triton experienced a production pause from fiscal 2021 to fiscal 2022. The gap created by the pause had been mitigated by the Australian order for three MQ-4Cs and Congress adding an aircraft to the fiscal 2021 budget. Australia was also expected to decide in calendar 2022 if it intended to buy additional Tritons in fiscal 2023 and 2024, budget documents said.

On July 5, 2022, the Naval Air Systems Command authorized the production and delivery of MQ-4C Tritons to the Navy and Royal Australian Air Force in a justification and approval document, reported Inside the Navy. The US$248 million award to Northrop Grumman on June 22 also procured long lead-time items to maintain the planned production schedule, according to the document. LRIP Lot 5 and Lot 6 contracts would provide for the procurement of aircraft, main operating bases, forward operating bases and related supplies and support. Additional air vehicles could be procured under Lots 5 and 6 as authorized by Congress or to meet international agreements, NAVAIR said. The total estimated value of all contract actions was US$1.3 billion, the Navy said. Inside the Navy noted that the service was seeking to buy three MQ-4Cs in its fiscal 2023 budget request and four in fiscal 2024. A total of US$663 million was being requested for fiscal 2023.

The War Zone website reported on July 28, 2022, that in June 2022 three BAMS-D air vehicles, modified RQ-4 Global Hawk Block 10 aircraft, had returned to the U.S. after being operated by the Navy from Al Dhafra Air Base in the U.A.E. for 13 years. Those aircraft appeared to be slated for retirement, the news site said.

Also on July 28, the Naval Air Systems Command awarded Northrop Grumman a pair of contract modifications to upgrade existing Tritons to the IFC-4 multi-intelligence configuration. One modification, worth US$11 million, covered the modernization of the air vehicle designated B12 to the new standard. Work was to be completed in June 2023. Another deal, valued at US$21.6 million, covered the upgrading of Tritons B16, B17 and B18 to the IFC-4 configuration. Work under this contract was slated for completion in December 2023.

Inside the Navy reported on Sept. 12, 2022, that there were two MQ-4Cs in the IFC-4 configuration at NAS Patuxent River, one of which was scheduled to transfer to Naval Station Mayport in October 2022 to begin training with the operational squadron.

Northrop Grumman rolled out the first MQ-4C for Australia during a ceremony at its Palmdale facility on Sept. 14, 2022. Production began at the company's facility in Moss Point, Miss., in October 2020. The fuselage and one-piece wing were mated in Palmdale in December 2021. Production was scheduled to be completed in 2023, with delivery following in 2024, said Northrop Grumman. Flight Global noted that the Australian aircraft were in the same multi-intelligence configuration as operational Navy Tritons. Navy program officials said that the U.S. was in talks with Australia to potentially establish a shared approach to depot-level maintenance but no plans had been finalized, reported Inside the Navy.

Naval Air Systems Command awarded Northrop Grumman a US$8.6 million contract on Sept. 29, 2022, for engineering data analysis and model correlation of MQ-4C flight-test data to support work to clear the Triton for flight through icing conditions, reported the Dept. of Defense. Work was scheduled to be completed in July 2024.

Inside the Navy reported on Nov. 21, 2022, that the Navy planned to establish its first Triton orbit in the 7th Fleet (Pacific) area of responsibility by August 2023. Two others would follow by the first quarter of fiscal 2025. VUP-19 would need somewhat more than 600 personnel by fiscal 2025 to operate the three orbits, each with four aircraft with multiple air vehicles in the air at the same time. A second main operating base at NAS Jacksonville was scheduled to be completed in November or December 2022, officials said. The officials also noted that multiple aircraft capability was still in software development for the Triton. The Navy expected to activate the first three orbits and then add the multi-uncrewed aircraft capability within a few years. The program also planned to move from a two-pilot operational configuration to one pilot over time.

Northrop Grumman received a US$26.4 million contract modification on Dec. 22, 2022, for Triton electronic protection enhancements. The deal covered the further development and demonstration of enabling technologies for the MQ-4C's MFAS radar systems. The work covered nonrecurring engineering to establish the hardware baseline for the technical refresh for the MFAS radar signal processor on the AN/ZPY-3(V)2 Mercury Power Stream 7000 signal processor to implement advanced capabilities developed by the Office of Naval Research, the Pentagon said in a release. Under the contract, Northrop Grumman would build a prototype commercially available off-the-shelf radar signal processor that was representative of the hardware baseline, including a scalable node/open system architecture, and could be used for additional development and flight testing. Work was scheduled to be completed by Nov. 20, 2024.

Please log in to continue reading.

Not yet a subscriber? Take a free trial.

Military Periscope gives you easy-to-use, integrated, open-source intelligence on…

  • More than 7,500 weapons systems and platforms
  • Nearly every country's armed forces
  • Militant organizations
laptop image

Try Military Periscope free for seven days

Military Periscope Logo

Your online source for military news, weapons, and nation's armed forces worldwide

Military Periscope FEDLINK information

Service ID: UC

Contract Number: LCFDL24D0002

Military Periscope is a product of GovExec.

600 New Hampshire Ave., Suite 510,

Washington DC, 20037, USA.

©Military Periscope 2024

All rights reserved. Redistribution of the content is prohibited without prior consent of Military Periscope.