NATIONAL HARBOR, Md.–The Navy in the next few years is planning to add a signals intelligence (SIGINT) package to its Triton unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), which will allow it to begin retiring its fleet of EP-3E multi-intelligence reconnaissance aircraft, a service official said on Tuesday.

The upgraded Triton will be called Triton Multi-Int for its multi-intelligence capabilities, Sean Burke, the Navy’s Triton program manager, told reporters during a briefing at the Navy League’s annual Sea Air Space conference at National Harbor, Md. The Triton is developed and produced by Northrop Grumman [NOC].

MQ-4C Triton during test flights in California. Photo: Northrop Grumman
MQ-4C Triton during test flights in California. Photo: Northrop Grumman

The baseline configuration of Triton includes radar, an electro-optical/infrared system, electronic support measures, and an automatic identification system. Burke said the SIGINT package will be added to the baseline suite, creating the “multi-int” package.

Triton operates up to 56,000 feet, giving it broad domain awareness, and with its robust wings can do a “dip maneuver” to see below cloud cover, Doug Schaffer, Northrop Grumman’s vice president and program manager for Triton, said at the briefing. The UAV can also operate in all-weather conditions, he said.

Low-rate production of the Triton was approved last September. Northrop Grumman expects to deliver two aircraft this September, which will provide the baseline configuration for the Navy, Schaffer said. Early operational capability of the Triton system is planned for FY ’18 and initial operating capability in FY ’21 with the multi-intelligence package, he said.

Triton is still in fight testing. Burke said the primary program is completing the system development and demonstration contract. Testing of the baseline configuration is slated to conclude in August, he said, before handing it off to operational testers for a two-month assessment, and the recently stood up fleet squadron in Jacksonville, Fla.