Northrop Grumman has avoided an anticipated gap in production of its MQ-4C Triton high-altitude, long-endurance (HALE) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), with the announcement that Congress had reintroduced a previously removed aircraft from the fiscal year (FY) 2021 budget.
One of two Tritons seen taxiing at Andersen Air Force Base (AFB) on the island of Guam, from where the unmanned aircraft has been flying in support of the USN’s 7th Fleet since January 2020. Congress has reintroduced an aircraft previously removed from the FY 2021 budget, removing the threat of a postponement of production for two years. (DVIDS)
Disclosed in a 26 March US Department of Defense (DoD) contract modification for USD98.9 million to increase the scope of low-rate initial production (LRIP) Lot 5, the reintroduction of one aircraft for the US Navy (USN) effectively removes the prospect of Northrop Grumman having to pause production across Lots 6 and 7 for two years until FY 2023. This had been touted due to budgetary constraints.
“[Northrop Grumman is] pleased to announce Congress reintroduced a production aircraft back in to the FY 2021 budget as part of LRIP Lot 5, which will prevent a production pause,” a company spokesperson said.
When Janes first reported the planned production pause in 2020, it was noted that expected funding of three further Tritons for Australia over this period could help fill the gap left by the USN and according to Northrop Grumman this is what has happened. As the spokesperson noted, this development is thanks in part to Australia funding the production of three Tritons in 2020.