Triton: Flying high, flying low
By Ben Iannotta|November 2016
Maritime ops drive naval drone features
Northrop Grumman is about to start producing Triton unmanned intelligence planes for the U.S. Navy after eight years of research and test flights.The similar Air Force Global Hawks watch targets from placid high altitudes, but Tritons must also dip below the clouds to study suspicious vessels. This requirement drove some design differences.
- Engine: Rolls-Royce AE3007H turbofan. Popular for business jets. Same engine as Global Hawks.
- Steerable video camera: Raytheon Multi-Spectral Targeting System-B. Also flown on Air Force Predator drones.
- Reinforced wings protect against low-altitude hazards, including bird strikes, hail and wind gusts. Electric de-icing coils heat leading edges and also tail.
- Inlet: Redesigned to prevent icing.
- Radar: Northrop Grumman Multi-Function Active Sensor for all-weather detection.
- Sierra Nevada Corp. electronic support measures system detects signals emitted by vessels.
- Saab automatic identification system, or AIS, to track and identify ships — even if they have turned off their AIS broadcasts.
- UHF-VHF radio antennas.