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Navy’s Unmanned Aircraft Flies the Indo-Pacific Skies

  • Published
  • By MC1 Glenn Slaughter, CTF-72 Public Affairs

Three months after arrival, two MQ-4C Triton Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) are quickly becoming an invaluable asset across the Indo-Pacific, integrating into a series of missions that showcase its increasing range and flight time.

In addition to supporting current operations for the various task forces across the Indo-Pacific, the Triton recently participated in advanced training evolutions with multiple warfare areas interacting simultaneously.

It also took part in an “elephant walk,” a parade of taxiing military aircraft in close formation, prior to takeoff on Anderson Air Force Base.  The demonstration, which included a MQ-4C Triton, and over a dozen other aircraft showcased the breadth of military air power available in the 7th Fleet area of operation. 

With an operating altitude greater than 50,000 feet and a range of over 2000 nautical miles, the Triton provides unmatched high-altitude persistent intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capability.

The two Tritons deployed to Guam are operated and maintained by Unmanned Patrol Squadron (VUP) 19, the first Triton UAS squadron. The highly-trained crews underwent multiple examinations, simulator events, and flights to become fully qualified.

"Bringing Triton forward creates a complex problem set for our adversaries,” said Cmdr.  Michael Minervini, VUP-19’s commanding officer.  “Our ability to provide persistent ISR to fleet and combatant commanders is unmatched in naval aviation.  The Sailors, chiefs and officers of VUP-19 are among the most professional warfighters throughout the fleet. Their ability to overcome challenges and accomplish the mission makes me proud every day."

Commander Task Force (CTF) 72, 7th Fleet’s patrol, reconnaissance and surveillance force, worked closely with VUP-19 to provide Indo-Pacific focused expertise to each crew prior to executing their missions.

"It's been a long road to get to 7th Fleet, but it's an exciting time to show off what our sophisticated sensor suite can do,” said Naval Aircrewman (Operator) 1st Class Ryan Gray, VUP-19’s operations lead petty officer. “Our operators have been training rigorously to hone their expertise and they are the best at what they do.  We are chomping at the bit to support the combatant commanders and maintain an overwatch posture to provide persistent intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.”

VUP-19 is comprised of over 300 Sailors spanning three geographic locations. Mission operators, administrative, and executive functions are performed from NAS Jacksonville, Florida. Maintenance leadership and professionals are homeported at Point Mugu, California, and a forward-deployed presence of maintainers and aircrew support 7th Fleet operations from Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. VUP-19 is the first and only squadron to operate the MQ-4C Triton aircraft, the first unmanned Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Force asset.