The Navy’s second MQ-4C Triton at a Northrop Grumman facility in Palmdale, CA. Courtesy Northrop Grumman

The Navy’s second MQ-4C Triton unmanned aircraft system successfully completed its first flight Wednesday from an airfield in Palmdale, north of Los Angeles.

Northrop Grumman, the prime contractor, said the 6.7-hour flight is a critical first step in preparing the aircraft to fly to a Navy facility in Maryland later this month.

“Our team worked incredibly hard to get the second Triton ready for first flight, which will help us plan its ferry flight to Naval Air Station Patuxent River,” said Mike Mackey, Triton program director. “We’re eager to continue working with the Navy during the next phase of Triton’s flight test program to speed up its availability to the warfighter.”

Northrop Grumman, whose unmanned aircraft division is based in Rancho Bernardo, is building 68 Tritons for the Navy.

The craft is designed for maritime missions of up to 24 hours at altitudes higher than 10 miles. It has a wingspan of 131 feet and weighs 32,000 pounds.

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.