VUP-19 DET PM MQ-4C “Triton” Drone Performs First Flight From NBVC Point Mugu

U.S. Navy’s MQ-4C “Triton” belonging to the Unmanned Patrol Squadron One Nine (VUP-19) DET Point Mugu conducted first flight from Naval Base Ventura County (NBVC) Point Mugu.

On Jun. 27, VUP-19 DET Point Mugu launched its first MQ-4C “Triton” UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) from Naval Base Ventura County (NBVC) Point Mugu.

Based on the photographs released by the U.S. Navy, the drone that carried out the first sortie is MQ-4C #168461, one of the two Tritons assigned to the unit (the other being the example #168460 that, at the end of May, sported high-rez tail markings).

The U.S. Navy’s MQ-4C “Triton” Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS) is an ISR (Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance) platform that will complement the P-8A Poseidon within the Navy’s Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Force family of systems: for instance, testing has already proved the MQ-4C’s ability to pass FMV (Full Motion Video) to a Poseidon MPA (Maritime Patrol Aircraft). An advanced version than the first generation Global Hawk Block 10, the drone  it is believed to be a sort of Block 20 and Block 30 Global Hawk hybrid, carrying Navy payload including an AN/ZPY-3 multi-function active-sensor (MFAS) radar system, that gives the Triton the ability to cover more than 2.7 million square miles in a single mission that can last as long as 24 hours at a time, at altitudes higher than 10 miles, with an operational range of 8,200 nautical miles.

Navy pilots from VX-1 and VUP-19 flew the MQ-4C from NBVC Point Mugu during the first flight of the Triton.

Interestingly, the first flight of a VUP-19 MQ-4C from NBVC PM was chased by a MQ-8B Fire Scout from VTUAV (vertical take-off and landing tactical unmanned air vehicle) DET Point Mugu.

An MQ-8B follows the MQ-4C Triton during its first flight from NBVC.

The U.S. Navy plans to procure 68 aircraft and 2 prototypes. VUP-19 DET PM has recently achieved an Early Operational Capability (EOC) and prepares for overseas operations:  as alreadt reported, Point Mugu’s MQ-4Cs are expected to deploy to Guam later in 2018, with an early set of capabilities, including basic ESM (Electronic Support Measures) to pick up ships radar signals, for maritime Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance mission.

The Triton is expected to reach an IOC (Initial Operational Capability) in 2021, when two additional MQ-4Cs will allow a 24/7/365 orbit out of Andersen Air Force Base, Guam.

Image credit: U.S. Navy


About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.