October 3, 2023
The Navy has announced that its drone program, designed to be its “eyes in the sky” for surveying the ocean, is ready for deployment.
The program is the Navy’s version of the US Air Force's RQ-4 Global Hawk surveillance drone, using large unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) dubbed the Triton as a key component of the Navy’s Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Force (MPRF).
The MQ-4C Triton UAS’ arrived at Andersen Air Force Base in Guam for its second deployment in the Pacific theater at the end of September.
The Triton acts like a flying sensor platform, designed for long endurance and intended to provide increased maritime awareness to the Navy, tracking coastal and sea-based activities.
The UAS has a wingspan of 130 feet, and cruises at a speed of around 368 mph. According to manufacturer Northrop Grumman, the Triton can cover 3.6 million nautical miles in one day.
“Built for the U.S. Navy, Triton will support a wide range of missions including maritime ISR patrol, signals intelligence, search and rescue and communications relay,” the Triton website said. “The aircraft can fly over 24 hours at a time, at altitudes higher than 10 miles, with an operational range of 8,200 nautical miles.”
According to Northrop Grumman, the Navy's program will require 68 aircraft to be fielded.
Triton was first deployed to Guam in January 2020, and since then has been updated with a new sensor suite to provide more accurate maritime intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and targeting capabilities.
“We have been successfully operating Triton in Guam for several years, and now we have expanded this platform’s capabilities far beyond those it started with,” said Capt. Josh Guerre, MQ-4C Triton program manager.
“Leveraging all the lessons we learned from our first deployment to Guam, Triton is poised to bring significant improvements that will increase its effectiveness in the battlespace, enabling our manned-unmanned team to maintain awareness in the maritime domain,” said Rear Adm. Adam Kijek, MPRF’s Commander. “The Indo-Pacific theater is the ideal arena to demonstrate the advanced capabilities that Triton brings to our Fleet Commanders and the nation.”
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