Navy expands MQ-4C Triton UAV facilities at Point Mugu in preparation for activation this year

VENTURA COUNTY NAVAL BASE, Calif., 19 Jan. 2015. U.S. Navy leaders are expanding the basing and infrastructure to support the Navy's future fleet of Northrop Grumman MQ-4C Triton Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS) long-range unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in Southern California.

Triton maritime surveillance UAV technology upgrades: Navy's just getting started
Triton maritime surveillance UAV technology upgrades: Navy's just getting started
VENTURA COUNTY NAVAL BASE, Calif., 19 Jan. 2015. U.S. Navy leaders are expanding the basing and infrastructure to support the Navy's future fleet of Northrop Grumman MQ-4C Triton Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS) long-range unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in Southern California.

Officials of the Southwest Naval Facilities Engineering Command in San Diego awarded a $16.4 million contract Friday to expand Triton UAV support facilities at Point Mugu Naval Air Station, which is part of the Ventura County Naval Base complex north of Los Angeles.

Triton facilities and unmanned aircraft are being based domestically at Point Mugu and at Jacksonville Naval Air Station, Fla. Tritons will work together with the Navy's P-8A Poseidon long-range manned maritime patrol aircraft to locate and track potentially hostile surface ships and submarines.

Friday's contract went to the construction firm of I.E.-Pacific Inc. in San Diego. The company will renovate the north wing of Point Mugu's Hangar 34; build a new warehouse, composite shop, battery shop, and a launch and recovery building at the air station; and expand the base's wash rack and power check pad in preparation for Triton UAVs.

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The MQ-4C Triton UAV, which is based on the Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawk long-range UAV, will provide intelligence of broad open-ocean areas, and post contacts to the Global Information Grid (GIG) in support of a variety of intelligence activities.

When the MQ-4C Triton enters Navy service later this year, the large unmanned aircraft will be based at Point Mugu; Jacksonville NAS; Kadena Air Base, Japan; Andersen Air Force Base, Guam; Sigonella NAS, Italy; as well as at installations on Hawaii and Diego Garcia.

A control complex for Triton UAVs was scheduled for completion last month at Jacksonville NAS, which is to be the operations center for all activities of the BAMS UAVs, and will help consolidate and disseminate data from BAMS aircraft, as well as coordinate BAMS operations.

The Jacksonville facility is to have a freestanding two-story building to house the BAMS mission-control complex with two electromagnetic interference- (EMI) shielded mission control systems, a tactical operations center with sensitive compartmented information facility spaces, and several roof-top mounted antennas.

Related: On finishing first flight, Northrop Grumman eyes software upgrade for Triton surveillance UAV

The MQ-4C Triton will be a forward deployed, land-based, autonomously operated system that provides a persistent maritime persistent intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capability using a multi-sensor mission payload that blends maritime radar, electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) sensors, electronic support measures (ESM), automatic identification system (AIS) and basic communications relay.

The MQ-4C Triton air vehicle is based on the U.S. Air Force RQ-4B Global Hawk UAV, while the Triton's sensors are based on components and systems already fielded. The MQ-4C's ability to operate within a range of 2,000 nautical miles on missions lasting as long as 30 hours will enable the P-8A aircraft to focus on its core missions of ASW, anti-ship warfare, and multi-intelligence operations.

The MQ-4C Triton UAV is 48 feet long, 131 feet wide, 15 feet high, and can fly as fast as 310 knots at altitudes to 60,000 feet. The UAV will be able to fly unrefueled for nearly 10,000 nautical miles. The MQ-4C crew, who will operate at BAMS mission-control complexes like the one to be built at Jacksonville NAS, will consist of the aircraft operator, mission and communications commander, and two sensor operators.

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