The U.S. Navy has announced that its first MQ-4C Triton unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) have arrived at Andersen Air Force base in Guam for their initial deployment in the Pacific theater. The two unmanned aircraft will be operated and maintained by Unmanned Patrol Squadron (VUP) 19 as part of an early operational capability (EOC) to further develop the concept of operations and fleet learning for maritime high-altitude, long-endurance (HALE) UAS. The fleet will expand to four aircraft for initial operational capability, with the ability to provide 24/7 operation.
In preparation for this EOC, the Navy’s Persistent Maritime UAS program office worked with industry partner Northrop Grumman and VUP-19, completing extensive operational tests and unit level training before the UAS were deployed to Guam.
The MQ-4C Triton drones will conduct intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) missions that will complement the P-8A Poseidon manned maritime patrol aircraft, and will bring increased persistence, capability, and capacity through their multi-sensor mission payloads.
Capt. Matt Rutherford, commander of CTF 72, which leads patrol, reconnaissance and surveillance forces in the Navy’s 7th Fleet, commented: “The introduction of MQ-4C Triton to the Seventh Fleet area of operations expands the reach of the U.S. Navy’s maritime patrol and reconnaissance force in the Western Pacific. Coupling the capabilities of the MQ-4C with the proven performance of P-8, P-3 and EP-3 will enable improved maritime domain awareness in support of regional and national security objectives.”
Capt. Dan Mackin, manager of the Persistent Maritime UAS program office, said: “This significant milestone marks the culmination of years of hard work by the joint team to prepare Triton for overseas operations. The fielding of the Navy’s premier unmanned aircraft system and its additive, persistent, multi-sensor data collection and real-time dissemination capability will revolutionize the way maritime intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance is performed.”
Rear Adm. Peter Garvin, commander of Patrol and Reconnaissance Group, stated: “The inaugural deployment of Triton UAS brings enhanced capabilities and a broad increase in Maritime Domain Awareness to our forward Fleet commanders. VUP-19, the Navy’s first dedicated UAS squadron supported by an outstanding NAVAIR and industry team, is superbly trained and ready to provide the persistent ISR coverage the Navy needs.”