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US Navy deploys Triton UAV for first time

27 January 2020
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An MQ-4C Triton unmanned aircraft system (UAS) taxis after landing at Andersen Air Force Base for a deployment as part of an early operational capability (EOC) to further develop the concept of operations and fleet learning associated with operating a high-altitude, long-endurance system in the maritime domain. Source: US Air Force

The US Navy (USN) has deployed its Northrop Grumman MQ-4C Triton Broad Area Maritime System (BAMS) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) for the first time, it was announced on 26 January.

The first of the service's naval variant-RQ-4 Global Hawk high-altitude long-endurance (HALE) UAVs arrived at Andersen Air Force Base (AFB) on the island of Guam. The type's maiden deployment also marked its introduction to the US Navy's 7th Fleet in the Pacific theatre.

Commander, Task Force (CTF) 72, lead for patrol, reconnaissance and surveillance forces in the 7th Fleet, will control the two aircraft that have been deployed to Andersen AFB. "Coupling the capabilities of the MQ-4C with the proven performance of [the Boeing] P-8 [Poseidon maritime multimission aircraft (MMA)], [the Lockheed] P-3 [Orion MMA] and [the Lockheed] EP-3 [special mission aircraft] will enable improved maritime domain awareness in support of regional and national security objectives," Captain Matt Rutherford, the commander of CTF 72, was quoted as saying.

Unmanned Patrol Squadron (VUP)-19 - the navy's first unmanned patrol squadron - will operate and maintain the aircraft as part of an early operational capability (EOC) to further develop the concept of operations and fleet learning associated with operating a HALE system in the maritime domain, the navy said.

News of the inaugural deployment comes 18 months after the US Navy inducted the Triton into service in June 2018. 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.

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