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Tue Oct 31, 2017, 09:20 AM

New Northrop Grumman drones to begin taking over 50-year-old Navy ocean surveillance plane mission

A high-flying drone equipped with surveillance sensors and a wingspan longer than that of a Boeing 737 will be the newest way for the U.S. Navy to monitor the seas.

The first operational MQ-4C Triton drone will be delivered by Northrop Grumman Corp. to the Navy within the next week at Point Mugu Naval Air Station near Oxnard, with a second drone to follow by the end of the year. The two drones will undergo testing at Point Mugu before being deployed to Guam next year.

The program has strong California roots engineering and design is done in Rancho Bernardo, and the drone is assembled in Palmdale. During low-rate initial production, that line will churn out three Tritons a year.

Eventually, the Navy will have 68 of the drones, a lucrative production cycle that analysts said will help defense giant Northrop Grumman maintain its knowledge of high-altitude, long-endurance drones and keep its Palmdale production line up and running.


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