MQ-4C Triton Drone Has First Navy Test Flight With New Sensor Upgrades

For the past 30 months or so, a number of MQ-4C Triton drones have been subjected to sensor upgrades that could make them even more effective at their job in the near future. And this week, the U.S. Navy put those upgrades to the test during the first flight of a modified Triton.
MQ-4C Triton 8 photos
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Integrated Functional Capability (IFC)-4 is how the upgrades are known, and they bring an enhanced multi-mission sensor capability to the drones. What exactly that means is, of course, a secret, so we have no additional info on that.

The Navy said an IaFC-4 drone was flown on July 29 at NAS Patuxent River, where a “functional check flight and initial aeromechanical test points” were completed. We’re informed the flight went as planned and the drone proved it is stable and controllable.

The Triton is at the center of another modernization process, with Northrop Grumman, L3Harris and Thales working together at devising a sense and avoid system for it. That would be a system meant to allow the Triton to fly alongside other aircraft, but also take off and land “out of almost any airfield or airport in the world,” not just military ones.

The Triton is one of the veteran military drones of the world. It came to be in 2013, when it had its first flight, and was created with the goal of performing a wide range of missions, from maritime intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) patrol and signals intelligence to search and rescue and communications relay.

The drone can fly on missions for 24 hours at a time, going up to more than 10 miles (16 km), and can cover distances of up to 9,400 miles (15,100 km). Just a small number of Tritons exist, about 70, and they are deployed with the U.S. Navy and the Royal Australian Air Force.

press release

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