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Navy’s Massive Triton Spy Drone Completes Cross-Country Flight

Kelly Schindler / U.S. Navy

The Navy's massive Triton unmanned aerial vehicle has just completed a nearly 3,800-mile trip across the country, travelling from Patuxent River, Maryland to Palmdale, California over 11 hours. The Triton is a highly sophisticated surveillance drone, equipped with special radar, cameras and sensors that can detect aircraft, other radar devices, and of course targets on the ground — or on the sea, which is of course the Navy's primary domain and where the Triton will likely be deployed most frequently. Its 130-foot wingspan and great size give it both range and versatility, and flying it is as simple as pointing and clicking on a map.

Such a suite of tools would be invaluable both in conflicts and for search and recovery missions; it would certainly have been welcome in the efforts to locate MH370, which were stymied by the vast area the search encompassed. The Triton is still a few years from deployment, but this successful flight marks the end of the drone's initial safety testing, and it now moves on to tests that will prove its viability in the field.

Drone and Fighter Jet Take Historic Flight Off Aircraft Carrier 1:13

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—Devin Coldewey