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    U.S. Navy’s Triton UAV Set to Revolutionize Anti-Ship Missile Targeting

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    The United States Navy is on the brink of a significant technological leap in maritime warfare with the enhancement of the MQ-4C Triton unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).

    This upgrade will enable the Triton to provide targeting for the formidable AGM-158 Long-Range Anti-ship Missile (LRASM), increasing the strategic capabilities of the Navy’s strike forces.

    On May 1, 2024, Nickolas H. Guertin, the assistant secretary of the Navy for Research, Development, and Acquisition; Vice Admiral James Pitts, the deputy chief of naval operations for Warfighting Requirements and Capabilities; and Lieutenant General Karsten S. Heckl, the deputy commandant for Combat Development and Integration and Commanding General, Marine Corps Combat Development Command, appeared as witnesses before the Senate Armed Services Committee’s Subcommittee on Seapower.

    A joint written statement was submitted for the record, offering specific details about the proposed upgrades for the MQ-4C.

    El Segundo CA Sept 13, 2020 Northrop Grumman Aerospace
    El Segundo CA Sept 13, 2020 Northrop Grumman Aerospace

    The MQ-4C, produced by Northrop Grumman, achieved Initial Operational Capability (IOC) in July 2023.

    The LRASM’s first orbit stand up in INDOPACOM [U.S. Indo-Pacific Command.

    The LRASM’s primary deployment at Andersen Air Force Base in Guam and Naval Air Station Sigonella in Sicily.

    The CENTCOM deployment location remains under wraps.

    The UAV is scheduled for continuous spiral upgrades over the next four years.

    One of the most critical upgrades, expected in 2024, is the integration of Link-16 targeting with the LRASM.

    Culminating in Full Operational Capability in FY28, which will provide near-24/7 intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) coverage across multiple theaters of operation.

    The LRASM is a product of Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control.

    The LRASM is designed for deployment from various platforms, including the Navy’s F/A-18 Super Hornet strike fighters, P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft, and the Air Force B-1B Lancer bombers.

    Notably, according to a Defense Department contract announcement dated May 1, Lockheed Martin was granted a $288 million contract modification by the Navy to aid in the advancement of the AGM-158C-3, an extended-range variant of the LRASM.

    The announcement highlighted that the C-3 version is set to incorporate advanced communications and survivability features, specifically tailored to bolster maritime strike operations for the Navy.

    Relevant articles:
    Navy’s Triton UAV to Provide Targeting for LRASM, Seapower
    First MQ-4C Triton drone arrives at Naval Air Station Sigonella, Navy Times
    IN DETAIL: Unpicking the MQ, ex2.com.au

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