LOS ANGELES — The newly named MQ-4C Triton Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS) unmanned aircraft for the U.S. Navy was officially unveiled at Northrop Grumman’s Palmdale, Calif., facility on June 14.

The Navy, meanwhile, says it has yet to confirm the causes of the accident that led to the loss of one of five BAMS demonstrator Block 10 aircraft near Patuxent River, Md., on June 11 (AWIN First, June 11).

The Global Hawk derivative rolled out in Palmdale is the first of two test and development MQ-4Cs and paves the way for a planned fleet of 68 for the Navy. “This capability has never been needed more as we rebalance toward the Pacific,” says Vice Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mark Ferguson.

Describing the unmanned system as a force multiplier, Ferguson says, “BAMS will provide an asymmetric advantage to the U.S. Navy. Long-range persistent surveillance transforms the nature of warfare at sea.”

The Triton will be employed as part of a new joint force with 117 Boeing P-8As to replace the aging fleet of 230 Lockheed Martin P-3 patrol and surveillance aircraft.

First flight of the UAV is scheduled for the end of 2012. Following a series of up to nine test flights in the restricted airspace of Edwards AFB, Calif., the aircraft will transit to Naval Air Station Patuxent River to complete development work. Initial operational capability is planned for December 2015.