Northrop Grumman has unveiled the first production MQ-4C Triton, a derivative of the unmanned RQ-4 Global Hawk optimised for the US Navy, at the company's Palmdale, California manufacturing facility.
The aircraft, formally dubbed 'Triton' after long being known as the broad area maritime surveillance (BAMS) aircraft, is one of two test articles produced in advance of a projected order for 68. The second example is roughly one month from rollout, says Northrop.
The MQ-4C is tasked with partial replacement of the venerable Lockheed P-3 Orion for maritime patrol, along with the Boeing P-8, a 737 airliner derivative. Five retired RQ-4 Block 10s retired from US Air Force service were given to the Navy and converted into demonstrators, called BAMS-D. The demonstrators were used both in test and operational situations.
One BAMS-D crashed on 12 June near the Navy's main flight test center at Patuxent River, Maryland. The cause of the crash is under investigation.