Navy Sending Two Guam-Based MQ-4C Tritons to Japan for Temporary Operations

May 14, 2021 11:16 AM
200112-F-SX156-1006rANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam (Jan. 12, 2020) An MQ-4C Triton unmanned aircraft system (UAS) taxis after landing at Andersen Air Force Base for a deployment as part of an early operational capability (EOC) to further develop the concept of operations and fleet learning associated with operating a high-altitude, long-endurance system in the maritime domain. Unmanned Patrol Squadron (VUP) 19, the first Triton UAS squadron, will operate and maintain two aircraft in Guam under Commander, Task Force (CTF) 72, the U.S. Navy’s lead for patrol, reconnaissance and surveillance forces in U.S. 7th Fleet. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ryan Brooks)

The Navy is temporarily moving two MQ-4C unmanned aircraft from Guam to a base in Japan, the service announced today.

“This is the first time the MQ-4C Triton has been deployed to Japan,” U.S. Naval Forces Japan said in a news release. “The Triton is an unarmed, unmanned aerial reconnaissance system that provides the Japan-U.S. alliance with enhanced maritime surveillance capabilities.”

The service said the two aircraft, which have been operating from Guam for more than a year, will touch down in Misawa on Saturday. Naval Air Facility Misawa, located near the northern tip of Honshu island, is home to other naval aviation operations, including the P-8A Poseidon.

The Triton is an unmanned aircraft that performs maritime surveillance missions and is based on the Air Force’s RQ-4 Global Hawk.

“It allows us to create a more complete picture of what is out there versus what we think is out there” in the air and ocean space, Vice Adm. Jim Kilby, the deputy chief of naval operations for warfighting requirements and capabilities (OPNAV N9), told the House Armed Services seapower and projection forces subcommittee in March.

“So to me it’s a validation – and having been an operator in the Pacific, sometimes it corrects a mis-ID, for lack of a better word. So I think Triton will add tremendous value there,” he added.

The Navy deployed the two MQ-4C Tritons to Guam in early 2020, which was nearly a year later than expected. This will be the first time the unmanned aircraft will operate from another location in the Pacific, giving the Navy an opportunity to test out the capability over more congested waters and other different environmental factors.

In a news release earlier this month, the Japanese Defense Ministry said the Air Force’s RQ-4 Global Hawk would also head to Japan.

“U.S Forces have temporarily deployed Global Hawk … based in Guam to Japan since 2014,” the defense ministry said.

Mallory Shelbourne

Mallory Shelbourne

Mallory Shelbourne is a reporter for USNI News. She previously covered the Navy for Inside Defense and reported on politics for The Hill.
Follow @MalShelbourne

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