The MQ-4C Triton unmanned aircraft system completes its first flight May 22, 2013 from the Northrop Grumman manufacturing facility in Palmdale, Calif. The 80-minute flight successfully demonstrated control systems that allow Triton to operate autonomously. Triton is designed to fly surveillance missions up to 24-hours at altitudes of more than 10 miles, allowing coverage out to 2,000 nautical miles. The system's advanced suite of sensors can detect and automatically classify different types of ships. (U.S. Navy photo courtesy of Northrop Grumman photo by Alex Evers/Released)

Northrop Grumman Corporation’s MQ-4C Triton unmanned aircraft system deployed for the first time Jan. 26, to provide military commanders in the Pacific greater maritime intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) data to inform critical decision-making in one of the most strategically important regions in the world.

“This is a significant milestone in the MQ-4C Triton program,” said Doug Shaffer, vice president and program manager, Triton program, Northrop Grumman. “Our partnership with the U.S. Navy has been crucial in developing this system that will help commanders build a better common operational picture.”

The U.S. Navy’s newest and most technologically advanced ISR platform, Triton’s autonomous suite of maritime sensors allows operators to detect, track, classify and identify vessels on the ocean or in the littorals in some of the world’s busiest shipping lanes.

Triton’s ability to fly at high altitude and remain airborne in excess of 24 hours allows commanders to surveil a larger maritime area than ever before. Designed to operate in a manned-unmanned teaming concept, Triton provides an unblinking eye over massive swaths of ocean and littoral areas, enabling manned aircraft such as the U.S. Navy’s P-8 Poseidon to focus on anti-surface and anti-sub-surface warfare.

Unmanned Patrol Squadron One Nine, or VUP-19, is the first squadron to operate the MQ-4C.

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