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Initial flight tests clear the way for new tests for Triton

The U.S. military is quickly ramping up its use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to not only save costs, but to also put fewer pilots in harm’s way. The U.S. Navy and Northrop Grumman have announced that they have completed initial flight testing on the MQ-4C Triton UAV, which can be configured for multiple intelligence, surveillance, and recon sensor payloads.
The Triton has completed thirteen test flights since it first took to the sky back in May; the longest of which was 81 hours.

The aircraft can now fly at various altitudes (the UAV reached 59,950 feet over the course of testing), speeds, and weights. The initial stages of flight-testing validated over 568 test points according to Northrop Grumman.
The Triton test aircraft will be taken to Naval Air Station Patuxent River, where the aircraft sensor suite will be installed and flight-tested for validation of the capabilities of the aircraft.
The Navy has requested 68 Triton aircraft to add to its fleet.

Source: Northrop Grumman

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Wow, never realized they're getting so big.
By TennesseeTony on 3/25/2014 7:06:38 PM , Rating: 2
That being said, the Navy has successfully landed and launched a C130 Hercules in the past. That plane has a similar wingspan, but 5 times the weight. It is conceivable that they could employ folding wings if they DID decide to have one or two onboard a carrier. But it seems this one is designed more for land based coastal patrols.

I wonder at what speed it cruises to obtain the maximum 60 hour flight time? 200mph equals a 12,000 mile range!

By inperfectdarkness on 3/26/2014 7:35:50 AM , Rating: 2
That could well be, since the Navy never used P3's or P8's from carriers. Still, doesn't seem like a radical departure from the original. More like gutting an existing airframe design and putting in new state-of-the-art gizmos.

Same thing has been done with the U-2. Originally, the U-2 carried high-resolution analog cameras with medium-format film (or roughly the equivalent thereof). It would RTB (return to base) with reels and canisters of film to be developed. Currently, it captures the same imagery with digital imaging. Still pretty much the same airplane though.

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