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US Navy conducts first upgraded MQ-4C Triton test flight


According to information published by the U.S. Navy on July 29, 2021, the Navy conducted its first test flight of the MQ-4C Triton in its upgraded hardware and software configuration at NAS Patuxent River, beginning the next phase of the unmanned aircraft’s development.
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Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001 MQ-4C Triton Unmanned aircraft system (Picture source: Northrop Grumman)


The MQ-4C Triton flew in its new configuration, known as Integrated Functional Capability (IFC)-4, which will bring an enhanced multi-mission sensor capability as part of the Navy’s Maritime Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance and Targeting (MISR&T) transition plan.

Triton's Integrated Test Team (ITT) comprised of the U.S. Navy, Australian cooperative partners, and government/industry teams completed a functional check flight and initial aeromechanical test points, demonstrating stability and control of the MQ-4C after a 30-month modification period.

Multiple Triton assets have been modified into the IFC-4 configuration in support of IOC in 2023. A single test asset is in the current IFC-3 configuration to support sustainment of deployed systems as well as risk reduction for IFC-4.

Currently, two MQ-4C Triton aircraft in the baseline configuration known as IFC-3 are forward deployed to 7th Fleet in support of early operational capability (EOC) and Commander Task Force (CTF)-72 tasking. VUP-19 will operate Triton to further develop the concept of operations and fleet learning associated with operating a high-altitude, long-endurance system in the maritime domain.

Triton is the first high altitude, long endurance aircraft that can conduct persistent Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) missions to complement the P-8 in the maritime domain. The Navy plans to deploy Triton to five orbits worldwide.

The fuselage of the MQ-4C Triton is an aluminum semi-monocoque construction while the V-tail, engine nacelle, and aft fuselage are made of composite materials. It has a length of 14.5 m, a height of 4.7 m, and a wingspan of 39.9 m. It has an internal payload of 1,452 kg maximum and an external payload of 1,089 kg. The MQ-4C Triton can fly at a maximum altitude of 18,300m (60,000ft). It has a gross take-off weight of 14,628 kg. Its maximum unrefueled range is 18,427 km (9,950 nm) and has a flight endurance of 30 hours. It can reach a maximum speed of 575 km (357 mph).