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Northrop Grumman gleans MQ-4C lessons learned in Arctic

A rendering of an MQ-4C Triton UAS demonstrating persistent targeting for long-range fires during ‘Northern Edge 2023'. (Northrop Grumman)

Northrop Grumman is gleaning lessons learned from the MQ-4C Triton's recent participation in the US Navy (USN)-led Arctic military exercise ‘Northern Edge 2023', as programme officials are preparing for the unmanned aerial system (UAS) to reach initial operating capability (IOC).

Achieving IOC for the Triton Integrated Functional Capability (IFC)-4 variant remains “a critical step as the [USN] achieves its naval operational architecture to enable distributed maritime operations,” Rho Cauley-Bruner, Triton programme director at Northrop Grumman, told Janes.

Programme officials at the company continue “leveraging our Triton Flying Test Bed (FTB) to develop, integrate, and demonstrate advanced technologies to meet the navy's current and future [intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance] requirements”, in the wake of the ‘Northern Edge' exercise, Cauley-Bruner said in a 23 June email.

Conducted from 4 May to 19 May, ‘Northern Edge 2023'took place across the Joint Pacific Alaskan Range Complex (JPARC) and the Gulf of Alaska, along with primary operating bases being Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson and Eielson Air Force Base. This year's iteration of the military drills featured a newly expanded exercise area, as well as participation by the UK and Australian armed forces for the first time.

During the exercise, company officials flew the MQ-4C Triton FTB, which is a manned Gulfstream IV equipped with multi-intelligence (multi-INT) payloads and subsystems to be fielded on the IFC-4 variant of the UAS.

A high-altitude long-endurance (HALE) and multi-INT UAS, Triton has been designed to complement the operational capabilities of Northrop Grumman's P-8A maritime patrol aircraft.

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