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U.S. Navy Deploys Unmanned Patrol Planes

 - February 10, 2020, 3:32 AM

Unmanned Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS) in the Pacific Ocean is getting underway now that the U.S. Navy has deployed the first two Northrop Grumman MQ-4C Triton high-altitude UAVs. The Triton is a naval derivative of the Global Hawk, with dedicated sensors and various enhancements.

The high-altitude jets were flown to their new base at Andersen airbase on Guam late last month by VUP-19, the Navy’s first dedicated UAS squadron. They can fly as high as 60,000 feet for up to 20 hours, tracking maritime targets and comparing them to the automated identification system (AIS) transponders on ships. The information can be relayed by satellites to ground stations, or to Navy P-8A Poseidon manned ASW aircraft.

The deployment comes about a year later than scheduled after a Triton crashed on landing in California. The prototype Triton made its first flight in May 2013. The Navy has planned to buy 70. A demonstrator version of the BAMS, converted from an early-production Global Hawk, was shot down over the Straits of Hormuz by Iran last June.