The US Navy (USN) has officially commenced operations of its Northrop Grumman MQ-4C Triton Broad Area Maritime System (BAMS) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), it was announced on 1 June.
A ceremony to formally induct the high-altitude long-endurance (HALE) UAV into service with Unmanned Patrol Squadron (VUP)-19 – the navy’s first unmanned patrol squadron – was held the previous day at Naval Base Ventura County in Point Mugu, California.
VP-19 now has two Triton UAVs, which are housed in specially constructed to facilities designed to accommodate their nearly 40 m wingspans. With this milestone, VP-19 will undertake training and trials ahead of the platform’s inaugural overseas deployment, which will be to the Pacific island of Guam later this year. For this and later deployments, the Triton will operate in concert with the manned Boeing P-8A Poseidon maritime multimission aircraft.
The MQ-4C Triton has been developed from the Block 30 RQ-4N naval variant of the RQ-4 Global Hawk HALE UAV to provide the USN with a persistent maritime intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capability in support of a full range of military operations. Designed for high-altitude, long-endurance ISR tasks, the Triton has a range of about 2,000 n miles and, with an endurance of 24 hours, will be able to cover more than 2.7 million sq miles in a single mission. Its payload primarily comprises the AN/ZPY-3 multifunction active-sensor radar.
The USN has established the infrastructure to train its Triton operators at Naval Air Station (NAS) Jacksonville in Florida. Operators undergo training under the supervision of Patrol Squadron (VP) 30 at the 11,600 m2 Integrated Test Center (ITC), which is also used for the training of P-8A Poseidon and P-3 Orion crews.
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