MQ-4C Triton Reaches Initial Operational Capability, UAV on 2nd Guam Deployment

September 14, 2023 6:52 PM
An MQ-4C Triton Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) assigned to Unmanned Patrol Squadron 19 (VUP-19), taxis after landing on Andersen Air Force Base. VUP-19, the first Triton unmanned aircraft systems squadron, will operate and maintain aircraft in Guam as part of the MQ-4C on Aug. 4, 2023. US Navy Photo

After making several updates to the platform, the Navy’s MQ-4C Triton unmanned squadron is back in Guam for its second operational deployment.
The squadron returned to Guam last week for its next deployment to U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, Naval Air Forces said in a news release.

The squadron previously spent more than two and a half years in Guam for a rotational deployment before coming home last October.

“After assembling lessons learned from Triton’s initial deployment to Guam, the MQ-4C received significant updates including an upgraded sensor suite. These enhancements increase Triton’s ability to provide a persistent maritime intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and targeting (MISR-T) capability alongside the P-8A Poseidon as a key component of the Navy’s Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Force (MPRF) Family of Systems (FoS),” Naval Air Forces said in the release.

Northrop Grumman, which builds the MQ-4C Tritons, said the Navy this week designated the program as reaching its initial operating capability.

“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,” Rear Adm. Adam Kijek, the commander of the Navy’s patrol and reconnaissance group, said in the service news release. “The Indo-Pacific theater is the ideal arena to demonstrate the advanced capabilities that Triton brings to our Fleet Commanders and the nation.”

The IOC benchmark comes as the Navy looks to halt the MQ-4C line. The Fiscal Year 2024 budget proposal sought to buy the final two MQ-4Cs in the next fiscal year, drastically cutting the program of record from an original 70 airframes to 27, according to service budget documents.

“The MQ-4C Triton inventory requirement has been re-assessed by the Joint Requirements Oversight Council (JROC), which has modified MQ-4C Triton’s Capability Development Document (CDD) to reduce total inventory requirement,” the budget books read.

“The total number of aircraft are attributed to the program as 22 production, and 5 development (includes 1 test asset, 1 stricken UA and 25 fleet assets).”

The Tritons first deployed to Guam in early 2020, nearly a year later than expected, USNI News previously reported.

The UAS is will help perform maritime intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions.

“With these upgrades, the MQ-4C has the capability and capacity to extend the maritime domain awareness for the U.S. and our allies and partners in the region. These systems demonstrate an investment by the U.S. to fulfill critical missions and ensure a free and open Indo-Pacific,” Naval Air Forces said in this week’s release.

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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