The US Navy is continuing operational testing of its future unmanned long-endurance maritime surveillance aircraft, the MQ-4C Triton, by proving its ability to share critical-mission information with the manned P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft.
During the June 2 flight test at Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Maryland, a Triton successfully exchanged full-motion video with a Poseidon for the first time via a Common Data Link system, Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) announced this week. The test demonstrated the Triton’s ability to track a surface target with its electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) camera to build situational awareness for a Poseidon crew flying many miles away, further establishing the interoperability of the two aircraft that will be essential to their combined mission of controlling vast areas of ocean.
“In an operational environment, this would enable the P-8 aircrew to become familiar with a contact of interest and surrounding vessels well in advance of the aircraft’s arrival on station,” Commander Daniel Papp, Triton integrated program team lead, said in a NAVAIR statement.
Separately, the Triton test aircraft has also conducted a series of heavy weight flight tests that will expand significantly the UAVs’ expected time on station by flying at higher altitudes with a full load of fuel.
In separate tests, the Triton flew the heavy load to an altitude of 20,000ft and then 30,000ft. The program will continue the heavy weight tests up to the Triton’s top operational altitude of 60,000ft.
June 24, 2016