skip to main content

US Navy plans MQ-4C deployment on Okinawa

An MQ-4C Triton UAV of the US Navy's Unmanned Patrol Squadron 19 taxis after landing at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, on 4 August 2023. (US Navy)

The US Navy is preparing to deploy two Northrop Grumman MQ-4C Tritons at Kadena Air Base in Okinawa. This is the first known deployment of this high-altitude long-endurance (HALE) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) on Okinawa.

A US Navy spokesperson confirmed to Janes on 20 May that the “US Pacific Fleet plans to temporarily deploy MQ-4C Tritons and associated personnel from Andersen Air [Force] Base, Guam, to a location in Japan”. The spokesperson added that the deployment had been planned well in advance “in support of US Indo-Pacific Command's intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) operations”.

The deployment, which the Minister of Defense of Japan, Minoru Kihara, described during a press conference on 14 May 2024 as being “extremely important from the perspective of Japan's security”, will see the two MQ-4Cs operate from Kadena Air Base from May to October 2024.

According to a Japan Ministry of Defense (MoD) spokesperson, the MQ-4Cs will assist with over-water airborne ISR activities around Japan, “including the southwestern region”.

The ministry “recognises that the temporarily deployed Triton's engagement in ISR activities by flying across a broad geographical range for a long time will strengthen maritime surveillance capabilities in the area around Japan and be beneficial to Japan's security”, the spokesperson told Janes on 22 May.

The US Navy uses the MQ-4C for its Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS) programme. The MQ-4C can be used for signals intelligence (SIGINT), communications relay and search-and-rescue operations. Janes

Looking to read the full article?

Gain unlimited access to Janes news and more...