Drones come in all shapes and sizes. There are your average quadricopters, good for a casual flight out back. Then there are military drones such as the Reaper, Predator and the Global Hawk. These drones are used in a wide variety of missions, from surveillance to bombing, but the Navy’s new drone takes surveillance to a whole new level. Northrop Grumman’s MQ-4C Triton is the U.S. Navy’s new surveillance drone which has the wingspan of a Boeing 757 jet. This unmanned aircraft system has completed its ninth flight trial, and it builds up on the Air Force’s Global Hawk.
The Triton drone has a sensor suite which enables it to provide real time intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance from a high altitude. It gives the operator a 360 degree view at a radius of more than 2,000 nautical miles, outpacing its competitors by a significant margin. It also features lightning protection and de-icing system, which allow the drone to go through clouds and get a better view of a target, during tests it also appeared to be able to recover from nominal changes in the flight path caused due to turbulence. With ability to support missions of up to 24 hours, so far the Triton has spent up to 9.4 hours in the air at 50,000 feet. The U.S. Navy has ordered 68 of these drones at $1.16 billion, anticipated ship date is December 2015, with final delivery expected in 2017.