Navy’s First Upgraded MQ-4C Triton Drone Lands in Maryland, More to Come

The MQ-4C Triton is one of those Northrop Grumman drones the American military has gotten so used to over the past few years. Based on the notorious Global Hawk, the machine may be just four years into its service, but it was already in need of an upgrade.
IFC-4 Triton 8 photos
Photo: Northrop Grumman
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Back in the summer of last year, the American defense contractor announced the completion of the first flight test of the upgraded drone, called IFC-4. IFC stands for Integrated Functional Capability and brings to the table multi-mission sensor capability.

That flight took place under the supervision of the U.S. Navy, at the Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Maryland. That’s the exact same base that got, at the beginning of this month, delivery of the first production version IFC-4, as part of a low-rate initial production schedule.

According to Northrop Grumman, the drone is known as the B8, and “is the first production Triton to be upgraded to the multi-intelligence configuration to meet the Navy’s critical maritime intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and targeting needs.”

What exactly that means is of course a secret, but no one can make a secret of the fact this beast is now an even meaner surveillance aircraft.

The general specs of the long endurance bird say it is capable of flying missions up to 24 hours long, at altitudes as high as 10 miles (16 km). A single mission can take it to a distance of up to 9,400 miles (15,100 km) from its departure point. The drone is powered by a Rolls-Royce turbofan engine, can fly at speeds of up to 357 mph (575 kph), and is controlled from inside a ground station.

Not that many Tritons are in service at the moment, with about 70 of them split between the U.S. Navy and the Royal Australian Air Force.
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Editor's note: Gallery shows other MQ-4C Tritons.

About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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