Tag Archives: MQ-4C Triton

U.S. Navy Inducts MQ-4C Triton Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Into Service Ahead Of First Operational Deployment to Guam

NBVC Point Mugu’s first two Triton drones commence operations (with interesting tail markings).

On May 31, Unmanned Patrol Squadron One Nine (VUP-19) DET Point Mugu hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony, marking on track delivery of an Early Operational Capability (EOC) to the Fleet and completion of their new hangar at Naval Base Ventura County (NBVC) Point Mugu.

VUP-19, that will fly and maintain Triton to support overseas operations beginning in 2018, currently operates two MQ-4C Tritons: the first arrived at NBVC on Nov. 9, 2017 and the second arrived in April this year. The two UAVs are housed in a specially built hangar used by the maintenance detachment to accommodate the pair of 130.9-ft wingspan drones built by Northrop Grumman for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions.

Shorealone Films photographer Matt Hartman attended the ceremony at NBVC Point Mugu and took the photographs you can find in this post. Noteworthy, the two aircraft feature different tail markings: the first one #168460 sports a high-visibility emblem of VUP-19, whereas the second one #168461 sports a smaller, low-rez badge.

High-rez markings on the MQ-4C #168460

Low-rez markings on the MQ-4C #168461

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.

The U.S. Navy plans to procure 68 aircraft and 2 prototypes.

VUP-19 emblem on the new hangar at NBVC Point Mugu.

The unmanned aircraft of VUP-19 are expected to deploy to Guam later this year, with an early set of capabilities, including basic ESM (Electronic Support Measures) to pick up ships radar signals, for maritime Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance mission. A more significant SIGINT (Signal Intelligence) capability will be deployed to the fleet in 2021, when the Triton is expected to reach an IOC (Initial Operational Capability). By then, the U.S. Navy plans to add two additional MQ-4Cs to the Guam deployment that would allow a 24/7/365 orbit. With the IOC of the Triton, the service will retire the EP-3E ARIES II as the Navy’s signals-intelligence platform.

Interestingly, some of the MQ-4C test flights could be tracked online. Here’s an example dating back to October last year:

The U.S. Navy plans to operate five 24-hour orbits around the world. The UAVs will be controlled from two MOBs (Main Operating Bases): Naval Station Mayport, Florida, and Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Washington. The aircraft will be launched (and recovered) from 5 bases: Naval Air Station Sigonella, Italy; an unspecified location in the Middle East (Al Dhafra, UAE, where the U.S. Air Force RQ-4 are forward deployed?); Naval Air Station Guam; Naval Station Mayport; and Point Mugu.

Make sure you visit this link to have a look at the whole set of photographs taken by our friend Matt Hartman during the ribbon cutting ceremony at Point Mugu.

Take a look at these fantastic photographs of USN aircraft flying over USS Zumwalt advanced guided-missile destroyer

MQ-4C, E-2C, C-2A, P-8A, F-35 and SH-60R flew over USS Zumwalt in Chesapeake

USS Zumwalt, the U.S. Navy’s newest and most technologically advanced surface ship, was commissioned in Baltimore, Maryland, on Oct. 15 during the city’s Fleet Week festivities.

First ship of a new class of stealthy multi-mission destroyers (worth $4.4 billion apiece), the futuristic Zumwalt features an advanced power system capable to generate 78 megawatts of power and has the ability to launch TLAMs (Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles) and Evolved Sea Sparrow Missiles (like those used in Yemen recently), as well as a wide array of other anti-ship and anti-submarine weaponry.

Several aircraft flew over the advanced multi-mission guided-missile destroyer as it travelled to its new home port of Sand Diego.

In this post you can find the most interesting photos.

The top one (courtesy of Naval Air Systems Command) is particularly cool. It shows a Northrop Grumman MQ-4C Triton overflying USS Zumwalt.

U.S. Navy’s MQ-4C “Triton” Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS) unmanned aircraft system (UAS), is an ISR (Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance) platform under development that will complement the P-8A Poseidon within the Navy’s Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Force family of systems.

The MQ-4C is a much advanced version than the first generation Global Hawk Block 10: it is believed to be a sort of Block 20 and Block 30 Global Hawk hybrid, carrying Navy payload.

With a 130.9-foot wingspan, the drone features 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.

A test proved the gigantic Navy drone’s ability to pass FMV (Full Motion Video) to a Poseidon MPA (Maritime Patrol Aircraft) last June.

The U.S. Navy plans to procure 68 aircraft and 2 prototypes.  The program received Milestone C low-rate initial production approval after a successful Milestone Decision Authority review at the end of September 2016.

161017-N-UZ648-029 CHESAPEAKE BAY, Md. (Oct. 17, 2016) An E-2D Hawkeye and a C-2A Greyhound assigned to Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 20 fly over USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000) as the ship travels to its new home port of San Diego, California. Zumwalt was commissioned in Baltimore, Maryland, Oct. 15 and is the first in a three-ship class of the Navy's newest, most technologically advanced multi-mission guided-missile destroyers. (U.S. Navy photo by Erik Hildebrandt/Released)

161017-N-UZ648-029
CHESAPEAKE BAY, Md. (Oct. 17, 2016) An E-2C Hawkeye and a C-2A Greyhound assigned to Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 20 fly over USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000) as the ship travels to its new home port of San Diego, California. Zumwalt was commissioned in Baltimore, Maryland, Oct. 15 and is the first in a three-ship class of the Navy’s newest, most technologically advanced multi-mission guided-missile destroyers. (U.S. Navy photo by Erik Hildebrandt/Released)

 

161017-N-UZ648-054 CHESAPEAKE BAY, Md. (Oct. 17, 2016) A P-8A Poseidon assigned to Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 20 flies over USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000) as the ship travels to its new home port of San Diego, California. Zumwalt was commissioned in Baltimore, Maryland, Oct. 15 and is the first in a three-ship class of the Navy's newest, most technologically advanced multi-mission guided-missile destroyers. (U.S. Navy photo by Erik Hildebrandt/Released)

161017-N-UZ648-054
CHESAPEAKE BAY, Md. (Oct. 17, 2016) A P-8A Poseidon assigned to Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 20 flies over USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000) as the ship travels to its new home port of San Diego, California. Zumwalt was commissioned in Baltimore, Maryland, Oct. 15 and is the first in a three-ship class of the Navy’s newest, most technologically advanced multi-mission guided-missile destroyers. (U.S. Navy photo by Erik Hildebrandt/Released)

 

161017-N-CE233-334 CHESAPEAKE BAY, Md. (Oct. 17, 2016) An SH-60R assigned to Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (HX) 21 flies near USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000) as the ship travels to its new home port of San Diego, California. Zumwalt was commissioned in Baltimore, Maryland, Oct. 15 and is the first in a three-ship class of the Navy's newest, most technologically advanced multi-mission guided-missile destroyers. (U.S. Navy photo by Liz Wolter/Released)

161017-N-CE233-334
CHESAPEAKE BAY, Md. (Oct. 17, 2016) An SH-60R assigned to Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (HX) 21 flies near USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000) as the ship travels to its new home port of San Diego, California. Zumwalt was commissioned in Baltimore, Maryland, Oct. 15 and is the first in a three-ship class of the Navy’s newest, most technologically advanced multi-mission guided-missile destroyers. (U.S. Navy photo by Liz Wolter/Released)

 

An F-35 Lightning II Carrier Variant (CV) piloted by U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Robert "Champ" Guyette II, a test pilot from the F-35 Pax River Integrated Test Force (ITF) assigned to the Salty Dogs of Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 23, flies over the stealth guided-missile destroyer USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000) as the ship transits the Chesapeake Bay on Oct. 17, 2016. USS Zumwalt, the Navy's newest and most technologically advanced surface ship, joined the fleet Oct. 15. The F-35C Lightning II — a next generation single-seat, single-engine strike fighter that incorporates stealth technologies, defensive avionics, internal and external weapons, and a revolutionary sensor fusion capability — is designed as the U.S. Navy’s first-day-of-war, survivable strike fighter. The U.S. Navy anticipates declaring the F-35C combat-ready in 2018. (U.S. Navy photo by Andy Wolfe/Released)

An F-35 Lightning II Carrier Variant (CV) piloted by U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Robert “Champ” Guyette II, a test pilot from the F-35 Pax River Integrated Test Force (ITF) assigned to the Salty Dogs of Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 23, flies over the stealth guided-missile destroyer USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000) as the ship transits the Chesapeake Bay on Oct. 17, 2016. USS Zumwalt, the Navy’s newest and most technologically advanced surface ship, joined the fleet Oct. 15. The F-35C Lightning II — a next generation single-seat, single-engine strike fighter that incorporates stealth technologies, defensive avionics, internal and external weapons, and a revolutionary sensor fusion capability — is designed as the U.S. Navy’s first-day-of-war, survivable strike fighter. The U.S. Navy anticipates declaring the F-35C combat-ready in 2018. (U.S. Navy photo by Andy Wolfe/Released)

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Northrop Grumman unveils the new gigantic MQ-4C BAMS Triton drone

On Jun. 14, the U.S. Navy’s MQ-4C Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS) unmanned aircraft system (UAS), was unveiled during a ceremony attended by about 300 people at Northrop Grumman’s Palmdale, California, manufacturing plant.

Now officially called the Triton, the MQ-4C, that is continuing testing and evaluation, parts assembly and installation, and radar risk-reduction tests, will complement the P-8A Poseidon within the Navy’s Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Force family of systems.

The MQ-4C is a much advanced version than the first generation Global Hawk Block 10: it is believed to be a sort of Block 20 and Block 30 Global Hawk hybrid, carrying Navy payload. With a 130.9-foot wingspan, the giant drone features 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 Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance (ISR) mission.

The unveiling ceremony came just three days after a BAMS demonstrator aircraft crashed during a test flight near Bloodworth Island in, Dorchester County, Maryland. Fortunately, there were no damages to people or property on the ground.

As part of what was initially the Global Hawk Maritime Demonstration program, beginning in 2006, before the Global Hawk platform was selected as the BAMS winner, the U.S. Navy purchased five RQ-4As from the U.S. Air Force: the drone crashed for unknown reasons on the U.S. East Coast on Jun. 11th is one of the two RQ-4A Block 10 that the USN has assigned to the VX-20 at Patuxent River for test purposes.

Although the test aircraft are referred to as BAMS demo drones, they are sensibly different from the actual MQ-4C BAMS Triton that, in spite of the same basic airframe, has a completely different radar and surveillance equipment.

Therefore, even if it might have been a bit embarrassing, especially since it arrived few months after the news that the U.S. Air Force (that has already employed the Global Hawk in Libya) has cancelled the Block 30 aircraft, the crash should not change the current plans of the U.S. Navy to procure 68 BAMS to perform persistent maritime ISR.

Joe Trevithick has contributed to this post.

Image credit: Northrop Grumman via U.S. Navy

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