One of two MQ-4C Triton unmanned aircraft systems (UASs) crashed yesterday on a Naval Base Ventura County (NBVC), Calif., base runway following an inflight mechanical issue and landing gear failure.
A spokesperson for Naval Air Force Atlantic (CNAL) told Defense Daily in a statement on Thursday that the Triton experienced an “inflight mechanical issue” during a test flight around 2:45pm on Wednesday.
The pilots shut down the engine and attempted to land the aircraft on a runway at the naval base as a “precautionary measure.” However, the MQ-4C’s landing gear did not deploy and it landed on the runway while the landing gear was still retracted.
There were no injuries reported, but the mishap is under investigation by the Navy.
The Navy is planning to make the Triton its unmanned maritime surveillance aircraft, eventually equipped with surface search radar, electro-optical and infrared cameras, and a multi-intelligence sensor suite.
The Navy started flight operations of the aircraft at NBVC in June. The base houses the maintenance detachment of the first Navy unmanned patrol squadron, Unmanned Patrol Squadron (VUP)-19 DET Point Mugu (Defense Daily, June 1).
Maintainers are conducting training and tests on the first two MQ-4Cs before they are due to deploy to Guam later this year. They are housed in a refurbished hangar that can accommodate up to four Tritons.
These initial aircraft are the early operating capability of the program, with a baseline sensor capability. The initial operating capability, set for 2021, will include four aircraft with the multi-intelligence sensor suite (Defense Daily, April 9).
The Navy is acquiring three MQ-4Cs annually from builder Northrop Grumman [NOC] and requested funding for three aircraft in FY 2019.
Internationally, Germany won approval for a possible $2.5 billion deal to buy four of the aircraft in April (Defense Daily, April 5).
The Navy did not disclose any effects this crash might have on the program’s schedule by publication time.