Northrop Grumman Unveils U.S. Navy’s MQ-4C BAMS Triton

PALM DALE, Calif. (NNS) — The unmanned air­craft com­mu­ni­ty received its first glimpse of the U.S. Navy’s MQ-4C Broad Area Mar­itime Sur­veil­lance (BAMS) unmanned air­craft sys­tem (UAS) dur­ing an unveil­ing cer­e­mo­ny June 14 at Northrop Grumman’s Palm­dale, Calif., man­u­fac­tur­ing plant.

In this undat­ed file pho­to, an RQ‑4 Glob­al Hawk unmanned aer­i­al vehi­cle sits on a flight line (U.S. Navy photo/Released)
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“Last year, we proud­ly cel­e­brat­ed the cen­ten­ni­al of naval aviation–this year we have seen the roll­out of a new patrol air­craft and now, the begin­ning of an unmanned tra­di­tion in our fleet with the roll­out of BAMS,” said Vice Chief of Naval Oper­a­tions Adm. Mark Fer­gu­son who spoke at the unveil­ing. “BAMS is unique­ly suit­ed to meet the demands of the mar­itime envi­ron­ment and give us the advan­tage we will need in the future–history will record this intro­duc­tion as a mile­stone in the sec­ond hun­dred years of naval avi­a­tion.”

Now offi­cial­ly called the Tri­ton, the MQ-4C’s unveil­ing caps more than four years of devel­op­ment with Northrop Grum­man for the sur­veil­lance air­craft. The Tri­ton will be an adjunct to the P‑8A Posei­don as part of the Navy’s Mar­itime Patrol and Recon­nais­sance Force fam­i­ly of sys­tems.

“It’s a phe­nom­e­nal event to see the fruits of our labor come to fruition after four years of hard work and ded­i­ca­tion to this pro­gram,” said Capt. James Hoke, pro­gram man­ag­er for the Per­sis­tent Mar­itime Unmanned Air­craft Sys­tems Pro­gram Office (PMA-262), which man­ages the Tri­ton pro­gram. “We are look­ing for­ward to con­tin­u­ing test­ing and eval­u­a­tion, parts assem­bly and instal­la­tion and radar risk-reduc­tion tests.”

The next steps for the Tri­ton pro­gram involve con­tin­ued test­ing, func­tion­al require­ments review and first flight for the sys­tem devel­op­ment and demon­stra­tion (SDD‑1) air­craft. SDD‑2 will fol­low a few months behind SDD‑1.

The Tri­ton air vehi­cle, which has a 130.9‑foot wingspan, is based on the Air Force’s RQ-4B Glob­al Hawk, while its sen­sors are based on com­po­nents and sys­tems already field­ed in the Depart­ment of Defense inven­to­ry. The Triton’s new fea­tures include the AN/ZPY‑3 mul­ti-func­tion active-sen­sor (MFAS) radar sys­tem, the pri­ma­ry sen­sor on the Tri­ton. The MFAS com­plet­ed first flight in Decem­ber aboard a Gulf­stream air­craft.

With the MFAS radar’s capa­bil­i­ties, the Tri­ton will be able to cov­er more than 2.7 mil­lion square miles in a sin­gle mis­sion. The Triton’s capa­bil­i­ty to per­form per­sis­tent intel­li­gence, sur­veil­lance and recon­nais­sance with a range of 2,000 nau­ti­cal miles will allow P‑8A, P‑3C and EP-3E air­craft to focus on their core mis­sions, adding to the capa­bil­i­ty of the Navy’s Mar­itime Patrol and Recon­nais­sance Force.

U.S. Navy