US Navy welcomes MQ-4C Triton into service

1The first two operational MQ-4C Triton aircraft at home in their newly refurbished hangar at Naval Base Ventura County, Point Mugu. Photo: Northrop Grumman

The US Navy officially welcomed the MQ-4C Triton unmanned aircraft system to the fleet with a ceremony on May 31.

The ceremony marked the start of flight operations, seven months after the US Navy received its first operational Triton from Northrop Grumman in November 2017.

Naval Base Ventura County (NBVC) Point Mugu is home to the maintenance detachment of Unmanned Patrol Squadron (VUP)-19 DET Point Mugu, the Navy’s first unmanned patrol squadron.

Maintainers are conducting training and tests on the Triton aircraft before it deploys to Guam later this year.

Point Mugu has also completely refurbished an existing hangar that will accommodate up to four Triton aircraft with its 130.9-foot wingspan. The first two Triton aircraft are located at Point Mugu.

Brian Chappel, sector vice president and general manager, Autonomous Systems, Northrop Grumman, joined Doug Shaffer, vice president, Triton programs, Northrop Grumman, and Rear Admiral William Wheeler III in cutting the ribbon on the refurbished hangar.

“With each new part of the Triton infrastructure that the Navy stands up, we move closer to making Triton operational and showing the fleet what this remarkable aircraft system can do,” Shaffer said. “I look forward to the day when this hangar is full of activity leading up to the Guam employment.”

“As Naval Base Ventura County’s representative in Congress, I am proud to support the MQ-4C Triton aircraft system,” said US Rep. Julia Brownley, Ventura County. “The Triton is an essential component of the Navy’s future intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities, and a critical program for the continued strength of Naval Base Ventura County and our national security. I have made funding for research, development, and procurement of the Triton a top priority. When fully developed, this program will bring jobs and an economic boost to Ventura County.”

Built by Northrop Grumman, the MQ-4C Triton is an unmanned intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft system with an autonomous capability that is piloted from a ground station. Triton can fly for up to 24 hours and reach altitudes of up to 55,000 feet.

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