As part of the Long Range Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Acquisition Program, Northrop Grumman has delivered its fourth MQ-4C Triton to the US Navy. The new drone will become part of VUP-19, the first Triton UAS squadron established by the force.
The manufacturer stated that the delivery of the fourth version It will complete the aircraft suite to create the first operational detachment of Unmanned Patrol Division (VUP) 19, while other drones are being prepared for delivery this summer. “…with three detachments around the world, the MQ-4C Tritons will provide unsurpassed maritime knowledge 24/7…”
The US Navy has conducted various tests with the Triton, as part of evaluations and preparations for declaring Initial Operational Capability of the system. After deploying to the Pacific in 2021, Commander Brian Conlan, commander of Unmanned Patrol Squadron (VUP) 19, said: “…the MQ-4C Triton demonstrates the importance of integrating manned and unmanned systems in support of national security interests…the deployment of the VUP-19 and MQ-4C Triton to the Seventh Fleet Area of Responsibility has provided us with the opportunity to apply and refine tactics, techniques, and procedures to expand our concept of operations and inform Planning for future deployments around the world…”.
The MQ-4C Triton is a critical component of the US Navy’s plan to materialize the transition of Marine Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance, and Designation (MISR&T) capabilities, which will allow the EP-3E Aries II veteran to be phased out. The MQ-4C is designed to provide long-range naval surveillance allowing for the detection, classification, identification, tracking and evaluation of sea and coastal targets. They also have the ability to support intelligence operations, offensive warfare, maritime interdiction, and amphibious warfare, as well as secondary missions such as search and rescue missions.
Designed to meet the requirements of the North American Navy, the Triton will offer much higher capabilities than the currently used means it will replace, given its 24-hour range, being able to operate at higher altitudes and with a range of up to 8,200 nautical miles. The program planned by the US Navy aims to acquire 68 MQ-4C.
Illustrative cover photo. Credits: USAF – Chief Airman Michael S. Murphy
You may be interested: As part of its projection in the Indo-Pacific, the French Air Force has launched the PEGASE 23 mission