Northrop Grumman Corp. (NYSE: NOC) and the U.S. Navy have completed nine initial flight tests of the Triton unmanned aircraft system, Northrop Grumman announced Monday.
The testing marks the half-way point in a process called envelope expansion, during which the test team validates the aircraft's ability to operate at a range of altitudes, speeds and weights. All flights in the testing are taking place at Northrop Grumman's manufacturing facility in Palmdale, Calif.
"Completion of envelope expansion will allow the test team to prepare for installation and further testing of Triton's surveillance sensors," said Mike Mackey, Northrop Grumman's Triton program director.
According to a release from the company, the Triton test team accomplished endurance flights up to 9.4 hours at altitudes up to 50,000 feet. The aircraft also reportedly performed doublets, a maneuver that tests the aircraft's ability to recover from small changes in its normal movement within its flight path caused by turbulence.
The Triton aircraft carries a variety of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance sensor payloads, which the military could use to gather high-resolution imagery, perform radar detection of targets, and provide airborne communications and information-sharing capabilities to military units across long distances.
The Navy reportedly plans to field 68 Triton units, to be used with the manned P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft to conduct surveillance missions.
Triton completed its first flight in May 2013.
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