crews,” Stinespring said. “A Triton crew will consist of
at least one pilot, identified as an Air Vehicle Operator,
one Naval Flight Officer, identified as a Tactical
Coordinator, and two Aviation Warfare Operators,
identified as Mission Payload Operators. Additional
personnel will be utilized during persistent operations
involving multiple vehicles.
“The aircrews that will operate the Triton will all be
experienced operators from the Maritime Patrol and
Reconnaissance Force. The majority will have completed an operational tour in the P- 3 or P- 8 and will be on
their first shore tour,” he said.
The squadron commanding officers, executive officers and department heads will have been operationally screened for assignment.
VUP- 19 expects to receive its first operational MQ-4C
in August, to be delivered at NAS Point Mugu. The
squadron initially will forward-deploy two MQ-4Cs in
2018 and eventually grow to 12 air vehicles operating
continuously in three worldwide orbits, Stinespring said.
“The Navy is currently examining locations for an
East Coast maintenance hangar and commander, U.S.
Fourth Fleet, Triton operations site planned for 2020,”
he said. “The Main Operating Base
and administrative spaces for VUP-
19 will be at NAS Jacksonville.”
The Navy also plans to establish
a second Triton squadron, VUP- 11,
on the West Coast.
“Under current planning, the
Triton’s first forward-deployment site
will be Guam,” Capt. Jason Rider,
the Navy’s deputy program manager
for the Triton, said in e-mail respons-
es to Seapower. Four MQ-4Cs will be
required to make up a full orbit.
The Navy’s two MQ-4C test air-
craft and the one owned by manu-
facturer Northrop Grumman con-
tinue in the system’s development
“Integrated Functional Capability
(IFC) 2 flight test continues with
expansion of the operational enve-
lope and verifying performance
to requirements,” Rider said.
“Currently, the team is conducting
heavy weight testing where we fully
load out the Triton with fuel and
fly at various altitudes to ensure
that performance characteristics are
matched. This is expected to be
complete by the end of October.
“The next IFC development
build, IFC 3, is ongoing in the system integration lab,”
he said. “IFC 3 includes such things as ice protection
system, SAR [synthetic aperture radar] mode, and the
full heavy weight performance envelope. The program
office expects to complete IFC 3 testing in the fourth
quarter of 2017, with early operational capability
(EOC) following in 2018.”
The two Navy Tritons are in the IFC 2 configuration
for testing and the Northrop Grumman-owned Triton
is continuing the early integration of IFC 3, as well as
EOC preparations, including maintenance training and
technical manual verification/validation, Rider said.
“Triton is tracking for its initial deployment, or
EOC, in [fiscal] 2018,” he said. “EOC will provide the
fleet with two [MQ-4Cs] in the baseline configuration
(IFC 3). To meet the needs of the fleet, deployment of
the multi-intelligence configuration (IFC 4) is planned
The Triton’s radar, electro-optical/infrared and electronic surveillance measures systems “are meeting
expectations during our test phase,” he said. “Software
enhancements through the IFC builds will continue to
increase performance and capability.”
An MQ-4C Triton unmanned aircraft flies over Naval Air Station Patuxent River,
Md., during its first operational assessment (OA) test Nov. 17. During the OA
period, the Triton conducted a total of six flights and tested various scenarios
to assess the system’s performance during both day and nighttime operations.