Northrop Grumman and Triumph Aerostructures have successfully demonstrated the structural strength of the U.S. Navy’s Triton unmanned aircraft system (UAS) wing.
The composites wing is a key capability that will allow the aircraft to descend from high altitudes to make positive identification of targets of interest during surveillance missions. A team of engineers found that no failures or unacceptable deformations of the wing occurred when it was subjected to a load at 22 percent above the Navy’s requirement.
Mike Mackey, Northrop Gumman’s Triton UAS program director said;
During surveillance missions using Triton, Navy operators may spot a target of interest and order the aircraft to a lower altitude to make positive identification, the wing’s strength allows the aircraft to safely descend, sometimes through weather patterns, to complete this manoeuvre.
Northrop Grumman’s wing supplier for its portfolio of high-altitude, long-endurance unmanned aircraft systems is Triumph Aerostructures, the testing was conducted at their facility in Dallas. Additional steps needed to certify the wing’s life span include flight tests at various weights placed within the wing that simulate various fuel loads and a fatigue test of the entire airframe that will begin in 2017.
The MQ-4C Triton will provide long-range intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance to Navy commanders as a complement to the manned P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft. Using a specialised suite of sensors that sweep in a 360-degree field of view, Triton can monitor more than one million square miles of ocean in a single mission.