The US Navy has announced the Northrop Grumman MQ-4C Triton has entered service, with a detachment of Unmanned Patrol Squadron (VUP)-19 in a newly refurbished hangar facility at NAS Point Mugu in California.
The May 31 announcement signifies an early operational capability (EOC) for the Triton, a marinised version of the RQ-4B Global Hawk. The EOC milestone will allow VUP-19 to commence operational missions with the Triton, and will see two aircraft deployed to Guam later this year.
“With each new part of the Triton infrastructure that the Navy stands up, we move closer to making Triton operational and showing the fleet what this remarkable aircraft system can do,” Northrop Grumman’s vice president of Triton programs, Doug Shaffer said in a statement. “I look forward to the day when this hangar is full of activity leading up to the Guam employment.”
The US Navy’s declaration of EOC was a key milestone for Australia’s Gate 2 consideration of the AIR7000 Phase 1B program for up to seven Tritons for the RAAF, and should pave the way for it to go before Government’s National Security Committee of Cabinet in the next few weeks.