Rolls-Royce congratulates the US Navy for achieving its first flight with the Northrop Grumman Corporation-built MQ-4C Triton aircraft.
Triton, a high-altitude, unmanned aircraft, is powered by a single Rolls-Royce AE 3007 engine. The aircraft is specially designed to fly surveillance missions up to 24 hours at altitudes over 10 miles high – allowing coverage out to 2,000 nautical miles. The advanced suite of sensors can detect and automatically classify different types of ships. The AE 3007 provides the fuel efficiency required as well as the electrical power necessary for the tasks.
First flight was conducted May 22 at Northrop Grumman's manufacturing facility in Palmdale, Calif.
The Rolls-Royce AE 3007 engine also powers the Northrop Grumman Global Hawk, another high-altitude, unmanned aircraft, as well as various corporate and regional jets. The AE 3007's reliability and efficiency have been demonstrated in military and commercial service, with the engine line recently topping 50 million flight hours.
Tom Bell, Rolls-Royce, President – Defence, said, "We congratulate the US Navy and Northrop Grumman for achieving this historic milestone -- the first flight of the Triton unmanned aircraft.'
"The Rolls-Royce AE 3007 engine has proven itself with tens of millions of flight hours and we look forward to powering the fleet of Triton aircraft for years to come," Bell said.
Mike Mackey, Northrop Grumman's deputy program director for Triton, said, "Triton is the most advanced intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) unmanned aircraft system ever designed for use across vast ocean areas and coastal regions. Through a cooperative effort with the Navy and our industry partners we successfully demonstrated the flight control systems that allow Triton to operate autonomously. We couldn't be prouder of the entire team for this achievement."
Northrop Grumman is the prime contractor to the Navy's MQ-4C Triton Broad Area Maritime Surveillance program. In 2008, Northrop Grumman was awarded a systems development and demonstration contract to build two aircraft and test them in preparation for operational missions. The Navy's program of record calls for 68 Tritons to be built.
Triton carries a variety of ISR sensor payloads that allow military commanders to gather high-resolution imagery, use radar to detect targets, and provide airborne communications and information sharing capabilities to military units across long distances.
At 130.9 feet, Triton has a wingspan larger than many commercial airliners. Combined with the efficient Rolls-Royce engine and other aerodynamic design features, Triton can fly 11,500 miles without refueling.
In addition to Rolls-Royce, Northrop Grumman's Triton industry team includes Aurora Flight Sciences, BAE Systems, Curtis-Wright Corporation, L3 Communications, Raytheon, Sierra Nevada Corporation and Vought Aircraft Industries.
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