It could be several years before the Navy can deploy persistent, around-the-clock surveillance using its new high-flying surveillance drone.
The MQ-4C Triton, a cousin of the Air Force’s RQ-4 Global Hawk, is capable of flying at altitudes of 50,000 feet for over 24 hours providing persistent intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance in maritime environments.
Last November contractor Northrop Grumman announced it delivered the first of two Tritons to the Navy for operational testing. These two aircraft, following a series of operational tests at Point Mugu, California, will be delivered to Guam and perform ISR missions for the Navy’s 7th Fleet in the Pacific.
Navy officials have said to provide an orbit of Tritons — a 24/7 persistent ISR capability over a target — four aircraft are necessary.
This won’t happen in 7th Fleet until the 2021 timeframe.