The US Navy has received delivery of the MQ-4C Triton unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) from Northrop Grumman at its Point Mugu facility.
Naval Base Ventura County Point Mugu serves as the home to the maintenance detachment of Unmanned Patrol Squadron (VUP) 19, which is the US Navy’s first unmanned patrol squadron.
The new UAV is set to be flown by pilots and operators from the squadron’s base at the Naval Air Station (NAS) in Jacksonville, Florida.
The autonomous aircraft is expected provide the navy with unparalleled endurance and 360° coverage that will be able to facilitate widely expanded maritime intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) missions.
Northrop Grumman Triton programmes vice-president Doug Shaffer said: “This aircraft represents the beginning of a new era for naval aviation.
“Triton is a high-altitude, long-endurance unmanned system that delivers a critical autonomous capability to the navy, expanding the service’s maritime patrol mission.”
Maintenance personnel at the Point Mugu facility are set to prepare the first two operational MQ-4C Triton aircraft for their deployment to Guam, which is currently scheduled for next year.
The UAV can fly upwards of 55,000ft for up to 24 hours at a time and can provide unprecedented, constant 360° maritime domain awareness via vessel detection, classification and tracking processes.
The MQ-4C Triton aircraft can combine to fly in an orbital configuration, with one plane on station and another en route, thereby providing the US Navy with near-constant coverage of huge swaths of ocean and littorals.
Northrop Grumman is slated to deliver 68 aircraft to the navy as part of the Triton initiative.
The US Navy intends to deploy the aircraft at NAS Mayport, Florida, as well as NAS Sigonella, Italy, and the Middle East in the future.