US Navy trials Rolls-Royce powered surveillance UAV

Rolls-Royce has powered the successful cross-country flight of MQ-4C Triton, a new unmanned aircraft system built for the US Navy.

A Rolls-Royce AE 3007H turbofan engine powered the 11-hour flight from prime contractor Northrop Grumman’s Palmdale facility in California to Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland where the aircraft will be fitted with a sensor suite.

The advanced sensors, which will derive their electrical power from the AE 3007H, are to be installed this autumn prior to a series of sensor integration flights.

In use, Triton’s sensor suite will detect and automatically classify different types of vessels at sea during surveillance missions lasting up to 24 hours at altitudes to 56,500ft. According to Rolls-Royce, this flight capability will let Triton cover once million square nautical miles during a single mission.

The flight itself saw a joint Navy/Northrop Grumman team control the aircraft from a ground station in Palmdale, which served as the forward operating base, and a Navy System Integration Lab at Patuxent River, which served as the main operating base.


Wingspan : 130.9ft (39.9m)
Length : 47.6ft (14.5m)
Height : 15.4ft (4.6m)
Gross Take-off Weight : 32,250lbs (14,628kg)
Max. Internal Payload : 3,200lbs (1,452kg)
Max External Payload : 2,400lbs (1,089kg)
Self Deploy : 8,200nm (15,186km)
Max. Altitude : 56,500ft (17.22km)
Max. Velocity : 331 knots True Air Speed (TAS)
Max. Endurance : 24hrs