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Navy's unmanned ocean recon craft makes 1st flight

Wed, 05/22/2013 - 5:32pm
The Associated Press

An unmanned jet built for U.S. Navy high-altitude maritime surveillance missions has made its first flight.

Northrop Grumman Corp. says the MQ-4C Triton took off from Palmdale, Calif., Wednesday and completed a 90-minute flight.

The aircraft is designed to fly missions lasting up to 24 hours at altitudes greater than 10 miles, allowing coverage out 2,000 nautical miles.

The prime contractor says the Triton's suite of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance sensors can detect and classify different types of ships, provide high-resolution imagery, and airborne communications and information-sharing among military units.

With a wingspan greater than 130 feet, it's expected to be able to fly 11,500 miles without refueling.

Test flights will continue in California before moving to Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md.

Navy plans anticipate building 68 Tritons.

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