While the Navy puts the new MQ-4C Triton high-altitude, long-endurance surveillance unmanned aerial system (UAS) through its
extensive test program, the first squadron created to
operate the Triton is busy training and preparing to
receive and operate it next year.
Unmanned Patrol Squadron 19 (VUP- 19) was organized as a Pre-Establishment Unit on Oct. 1, 2013, under
an officer-in-charge, Cmdr. Shannon Clark. It will stand
up as the Navy’s first VUP squadron on Oct. 28 at Naval
Air Station (NAS) Jacksonville, Fla., under Commander,
Patrol Reconnaissance Wing 11. Cmdr. Benjamin M.
Stinespring, prospective commanding officer of VUP- 19,
will assume command of the squadron.
The MQ-4C is designed to conduct maritime surveillance for the fleet. Its endurance provides a long-dwell capability to monitor its assigned track. Its
multifunction radar, electro-optical cameras, electronic surveillance measures sensor and Automatic
Information System will allow it to search, detect and
track shipping and other targets, and relay the data
back to a ground- or ship-based mission control station
or to another maritime patrol aircraft.
“Since inception, VUP- 19 personnel have been
an integral part of a larger Navy team building the
requisite Navy- and Naval Aviation-specific programs
required to ensure all administra-
tive and operational elements are
in place for the first Triton employ-
ment,” Stinespring said in e-mail
responses to Seapower questions.
Stinespring said the unit cur-
rently had 155 personnel on board
at Jacksonville and the detach-
ment at NAS Point Mugu, Calif.
The squadron will grow to more
than 500 personnel, including 72
naval aviators (pilots), 32 naval
flight officers and 60 enlisted
“While some squadron personnel have been trained
and participated in developmental testing at Naval
Air Station Patuxent River, Md., the long-term train-
ing plan for Triton will see aircrew trained at Patrol
Squadron 30 (VP- 30) in Jacksonville and maintainers
trained by the Center for Naval Air Technical Training
Unit at NAS Point Mugu,” Stinespring said. “The first
wave of aviation maintenance personnel has already
received initial academic training at NAS Point Mugu
and completed their qualifications at NAS Patuxent
River while supporting the ongoing test program.”
“In addition to a full complement of aviation main-
tenance personnel, the squadron will have a number of
information technicians to handle the significant com-
puter enterprise that is integral to the UAS operations,”
VUP- 19 has been developing its manning to support
“Triton planning calls for operations in five worldwide orbits with each orbit supported by 10 flight
Training for Triton
First MQ-4C unmanned patrol squadron prepares for fleet service
By RICHARD R. BURGESS, Managing Editor
The First Wave
The Navy’s first MQ-4C Triton squadron prepares to launch the
new unmanned aerial system into operational service.
n Unmanned Patrol Squadron 19 will stand up this month.
n The squadron will receive its first Triton in August 2017 and
deploy its first orbit in 2018.
n The Defense Acquisition Board approved a Milestone C, a necessary step for low-rate production.