Northrop Grumman has received additional funding to upgrade new MQ-4C Tritons to an Integrated Functional Capability 4.0 (IFC-4) multiple intelligence configuration for the US Navy and the Australian government.
The contract modification is worth US$15 million and, according to Northrop Grumman, will keep the MQ-4C Tritons on path to achieving Initial Operating Capability (IOC) in 2023.
IFC-4 will bring an enhanced multi-mission sensor capability as part of the US Navy’s Maritime Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance and Targeting (MISR&T) transition plan. The IFC-4 configuration has sensors which include: a Northrop Grumman AN/ZPY-3 Multi-Function Active Sensor (MFAS) X-band electronically scanned surveillance radar under the fuselage; a Raytheon AN/DAS-3 electro-optic, infra-red (EO/IR) sensor under the nose; Automatic Identification System (AIS); and a Sierra Nevada AN/ZLQ-1 Electronic Support Measures (ESM) payload for SIGINT gathering.
IFC-4 will allow the RAAF and US Navy to share data and maintain an 'unblinking' autonomous intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and targeting capability over some of the world’s most critical maritime regions. Australia is slated to acquire at least three under Air 7000 Phase 1B and possibly seven Triton aircraft in this configuration, and Northrop Grumman delivered the first MQ-4C Triton in IFC-4 configuration to the US Navy in February this year.
In US Navy service, the Triton is designed to replace the Lockheed P-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft (and complement the Boeing P-8A Poseidon). It will also replace the US Navy EP-3E Aeries signals intelligence (SIGINT) platform, meaning the aircraft will provide Australia with a significant SIGINT capability beyond that offered by the current AP-3C (EW) Orions and future MC-55A Peregrine fleets.
The US Navy plans to deploy Triton to five orbits worldwide.