Navy's first MQ-4C Triton drones arrive in Guam

The first squadron of the U.S. Navy's MQ-4C Triton unmanned aerial system arrived in Guam for their initial deployment, the Navy announced on Monday.

The two-aircraft squadron, with two more aircraft expected to join, is stationed at Guam's Andersen Air Force Base under control of the Navy's Task Force 72. The Northrop Grumman-built drones will provide real-time intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions over ocean and coastal regions, conduct continuous maritime surveillance, be involved in search and rescue missions, and complement P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft.

At 47 feet in length and with a wingspan of 130 feet, the Rolls-Royce turbofan-powered aircraft can travel at up to 357 mph, with a range of 9,400 miles.

"The introduction of MQ-4C Triton to the Seventh Fleet area of operations expands the reach of the U.S. Navy's maritime patrol and reconnaissance force in the Western Pacific," said Capt. Matt Rutherford, commander of CTF-72. "Coupling the capabilities of the MQ-4C with the proven performance of P-8, P-3 and EP-3 [airplanes] will enable improved maritime domain awareness in support of regional and national security objectives."

The two aircraft were delivered to the Navy in November.

"This aircraft represents the beginning of a new era for naval aviation," said Doug Shaffer of Northrop Grumman said at the time. "Triton is a high-altitude, long-endurance unmanned system that delivers a critical autonomous capability to the Navy, expanding the service's maritime patrol mission. We are proud to be a part of this historic program."

Northrop Grumman received a $19.9 million contract with the Navy in April 2019 for engineering work on the MQ-4C Triton, and a $49.4 million contract the following month for parts, material and labor for maintenance. The Navy ordered three more aircraft, with improved radar jamming capabilities in December in a separate $287 million contract.

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