An historic ribbon cutting ceremony took place Thursday morning at Naval Base Ventura County for a special surveillance system.
The Unmanned Patrol Squadron One Nine (VUP-19) celebrated the base’s re-purposed, WWII-era hangar, now housing two MQ-4C Triton unmanned aerial vehicles.
“Today is really a historical event for the Navy, Naval aviation and our nation,” said Rear Admiral Trey Wheeler, Commander Patrol and Reconnaissance Group Pacific. “The Triton will provide our fleet commanders an awareness of the maritime battle space that we’ve never had.”
The first Triton arrived at the base in November 2017; the second arrived in April 2018.
The aerial vehicles are used, worldwide, for maritime surveillance and as a patrol aircraft. The system provides real-time intelligence during reconnaissance and rescue missions as well as search excursions over both land and sea.
“It’s a next generation system,” said Brian Chappel, Sector Vice President and General Manager of the Autonomous Systems Divsion at Northrop Grumman. “It’ll fly up to 60,000 feet. It can go many thousands of miles, be up in the air for 30 hours at a time all while keeping watch over large portions of the ocean and helping the Navy understand where threats are and keep our ships and sailors safe.”
According to military manufacturer Northrop Grumman, the MQ-4C Triton is ‘Making the World’s Oceans Smaller.’
Among the program’s tasks are maritime surveillance, collection of enemy order of battle information, battle damage assessment, port surveillance, communication relay, and support of the following missions – maritime interdiction, surface warfare, battlespace management, and targeting for maritime and littoral strike missions. This range of capabilities ensures that the warfighter is well-prepared and equipped to achieve optimum mission success.
Triton is powered by an industrial Rolls Royce engine and its 131-foot wingspan allows the unmanned aerial vehicle to fly long distances for more than 24 hours without refueling. A ground crew of four is required to operate the system.
Chappel told NewsChannel 3 that the VUP-19 Squadron is beginning its operational test at Pt. Mugu and is about ready to go operational.
“Anytime you have such a game-changing capability as this, you really need to make sure you’re getting it right,” Chappel said. “The folks here at Pt. Mugu and the Navy are going to be helping us out to test it and get it ready for that operational deployment.”