The Navy’s MQ-4C Triton unmanned aircraft system received Milestone C low-rate initial production approval after a successful Milestone Decision Authority review, contractor Northrop Grumman announced today.
The decision comes after the Triton program successfully completed an operational assessment in February, the results and data from which informed the review process. Milestone C marks the end of the development phase and the beginning of production under the Pentagon’s acquisition process.
“Triton’s critical technology is mature, and the system development and design review phases have been successful,” Doug Shaffer, vice president of Triton programs for Northrop Grumman, said in a company statement.
“Completion of the full system Operational Assessment (OA) testing exercised in various real-world scenarios validated the system’s ability to protect the Navy’s fleet from evolving threats. We are extremely pleased with the maritime domain awareness products and results coming from Triton.”
During the operational assessment, “an integrated test team made up of Navy personnel from Air Test and Evaluation Squadrons VX-1 and VX-20, Unmanned Patrol Squadron, VUP-19 and Northrop Grumman demonstrated the reliability of Triton over the course of approximately 60 flight hours,” according to Northrop Grumman’s February statement on the assessment. That team analyzed and validated sensor imagery and performance at various altitudes and ranges, as well as tested the system’s ability to classify targets and share data.
After the completion of the formal operational assessment, testing continued into the summer and included Triton successfully completing the critical capability of passing full motion video to a P-8A Poseidon in flight.
The Navy said last year that it intended to buy three aircraft, one mission control system and one forward operating base in each of its first two LRIP contracts.