The US Navy's MQ-4C Triton unmanned aircraft systems deployed for the first time on January 26, arriving in Guam under the command of Task Force (CTF) 72, 7th Fleet.
Two Tritons will be operated by Unmanned Patrol Squadron 19 (VUP 19) and used to develop the US Navy's early operational capability (EOC) - its understanding of how a high-altitude long-endurance UAS can be used in the maritime domain.
The Tritons will provide American military commanders in the Pacific with greater maritime intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) data to inform critical decision-making in one of the most strategically important regions in the world. The UAS enables manned aircraft, such as P-8 Poseidons, to focus on anti-surface and anti-sub-surface warfare.
“The introduction of MQ-4C Triton to the 7th Fleet area of operations expands the reach of the US Navy’s maritime patrol and reconnaissance force in the Western Pacific,” Captain Matt Rutherford, commander of CTF-72, said. “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.”
IOC will include four Tritons to support 24/7 operations.
“This is a significant milestone in the MQ-4C Triton program,” Doug Shaffer, vice president and program manager of the Triton program for Northrop Grumman, said. “Our partnership with the US Navy has been crucial in developing this system that will help commanders build a better common operational picture.”
News of the deployment broke in September last year, when VUP 19 posted photos to their Facebook page. A signals intelligence function is set to follow in 2021.