An airliner-sized Navy surveillance drone made its first transcontinental flight Wednesday night, flying 11 hours across the United States before landing Thursday morning at a Navy base in Maryland.
The cross-country test was the first for the MQ-4C Triton, which will play a role in the Navy’s planned Broad Area Maritime Surveillance program.
The Triton left from an airfield in Palmdale, California, at Northrop Grumman, which manufactures the aircraft, crossing the Gulf of Mexico before tracking up the Atlantic coast and landing at Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Maryland.
A Navy press release stated that the unmanned aircraft flew above 50,000 feet to avoid commercial air traffic and that after 11 hours and 3,290 miles landed safely in Maryland.
The Washington Post reports that the drone can provide blanket surveillance for the Navy as part of the branch’s Broad Area Maritime Surveillance program.
Triton uses ‘radar, infrared sensors and advanced cameras to provide full-motion video and photographs’ to Navy personnel.