Two MQ-4C Triton drones have arrived in Guam as part of the U.S. Navy's first-ever deployment of the unmanned aerial vehicle, the service recently announced.
The UAVs, part of the service's first Triton squadron, known as Unmanned Patrol Squadron (VUP) 19, forward deployed to Andersen Air Force Base on Jan. 26 for an early operational capability (EOC) test, officials said in a release.
The squadron will also take part in patrol, reconnaissance and surveillance missions in support of U.S. 7th Fleet, according to the release. Breaking Defense was first to report the anticipated overseas mission in September.
"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 Task Force (CTF) 72.
"Coupling the capabilities of the MQ-4C with the proven performance of [P-8 Poseidon], [P-3 Orion] and [EP-3 Aries] will enable improved maritime domain awareness in support of regional and national security objectives," he said in the release.
The Northrop Grumman-made UAV, an enhanced variant of the RQ-4 Global Hawk, is part of the Navy's Broad Area Maritime Surveillance program and boasts next-generation sensors specially engineered for seafaring operations.
The MQ-4C, which made its first flight in 2013, can stay airborne for more than 24 hours, according to Northrop.
The EOC test will push crews on how best to operate the high-altitude, long-endurance drone in the vast maritime region, officials said.
Rear Adm. Peter Garvin, commander of the Patrol and Reconnaissance Group, said the inaugural mission will expand intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance gathering "that the Navy needs."
The deployment brings "capabilities and a broad increase in maritime domain awareness to our forward fleet commanders," he said.
Officials will also test how the Triton can assist with the vital mission of the P-8 spy aircraft, which uses a mix of sophisticated GPS systems, radios, electronic warfare tools, communication nodes, infrared imaging and high-tech radars to detect what's happening on or below the water's surface.
According to the Navy, the Triton was engineered to be employed in concert with the manned surveillance aircraft.