Navy Triton Squadron Begins First Flight Operations
By RICHARD R. BURGESS, Managing Editor
ARLINGTON, Va. — The Navy’s first Triton squadron has flown its MQ-4C unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in functional check flights in preparation for the UAV’s first operational deployment.
Unmanned Patrol Squadron 19 (VUP-19) recently flew both of its MQ-4Cs from Naval Air Station (NAS) Point Mugu, California, where it maintains a maintenance detachment, Lt. Matt Nemetz said in a July 19 article published in the Jax Air News, the newspaper at the squadron’s home base of NAS Jacksonville, Florida.
Nemetz said the functional check flights lasting several hours were to test the operability of the aircrafts’ mechanics and systems.
The flights were conducted by VUP-19 personnel and additional pilots from Air Test & Evaluation Squadron 1 (VX-1) from NAS Patuxent River, Maryland.
The takeoffs were conducted by VUP-19 and VX-1 pilots at Point Mugu. After becoming airborne, control of the Tritons was assumed by operators of both squadrons at the main operating base at Jacksonville. After operational checks, the aircraft were returned to control of the forward operating base pilots at Point Mugu.
VUP-19 will deploy the two Tritons later this year to Andersen Air Force Base at the northern tip of Guam to achieve early operational capability of the UAV. The deployment will mark the beginning of Triton surveillance operations in the Western Pacific, the first of five orbits that Tritons eventually will conduct worldwide.
The MQ-4C is built by Northrop Grumman. The Navy plans to procure 68 Tritons in addition to two prototypes.