The US Navy is currently the only force to operate the MQ-4C line with 68 aircraft ordered, of which two have been handed over and staffed to the unmanned patrol squad number 19.
According to Reuters news, A U.S. military drone has been shot down in international airspace over the Strait of Hormuz by an Iranian surface-to-air missile, a U.S. official said on Thursday. The official said the drone was a U.S. Navy MQ-4C Triton. No further details were immediately available, including the time of the shoot-down.
Iran immediately denied this allegation by Washington. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on June 20 that the United States was lying about US unmanned spy plane being shot down at international waters by Iran, and said Tehran would bring the issue to UN.
In the context of the United States is intensifying a series of evidence accusing Iran of being behind the attack on two oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz last weekend. The Iranian incident has shot down an American unmanned aircraft that is expected to continue “adding fuel to the fire”, pushing relations between Tehran and Washington to the brink of war, “the barrel of gunpowder” can explode at any time. Washington has confirmed and said it was an UAV MQ-4C Triton, not the RQ-4 Global Hawk as Iranian claims. Today we will talk about this type of US MQ-4C Triton unmanned aircraft.
To enhance the strength of the navy, the United States has developed many new generation unmanned reconnaissance aircraft; In particular, MQ-4C Triton aircraft are rated as first-class.
Unmanned reconnaissance aircraft MQ-4C Triton was developed under the Broad Area Maritime Surveillance program, signed by the US Navy with Northrop Grumman, with a contract value of more than $1.2 billion. The system is intended to provide real-time intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions over vast ocean and coastal regions, continuous maritime surveillance, conduct search and rescue missions, and to complement the Boeing P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft.
According to Northrop Grumman, MQ-4C Triton is designed based on the variant of the Global Hawk RQ-4B for the navy. The outstanding advantage of MQ-4C Triton is that it is equipped with the most modern reconnaissance technologies. Triton also incorporates a reinforced airframe, for increased internal payload, and wing for hail, bird strike, and gust load protection, along with de-icing and lightning protection systems. These features allow the aircraft to descend and ascend through harsh maritime weather environments to gain a closer view of ships and other targets at sea when needed.
It can be said that Triton will be a crucial component of the Navy’s 21st century strategy for conducting surveillance of surface ship and submarine traffic in the vast Pacific and other oceans around the globe.
The first fuselage of MQ-4C was completed and tested the ground station of the multi-function active sensor radar in 2011.
After a lot of testing, initial Operational Capability for the MQ-4C was achieved in 2018 with Full Operating Capability planned in 2023. The US Navy intends to procure 68 MQ-4C Triton to carry out surveillance missions, along with the manned P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft.
As a product developed based on RQ-4B Global Hawk, MQ-4C Triton still maintains the overall design lines with some noticeable changes. The MQ-4C will showcase a bulged belly fairing containing the expected radar array as well as a small chin protrusion visual tracking system. The main aluminium fuselage is of semi-monocoque construction, while the V-tail, engine nacelle and aft fuselage are made of composite materials. The forward fuselage is reinforced as mentioned above for the rigors of over-water flight. A single engine is mounted on its spine, straight wing appendages, retractable tricycle undercarriage and outward-canted vertical tail fins.
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The Triton has a length of 14.5m, height of 4.7m and a wingspan of 39.9m. It can hold a maximum internal payload of 1,452kg and external payload of 1,089kg.
MQ-4C Triton is powered by a Rolls-Royce AE3007H turbofan engine, generates a thrust of 8,500lb. This UAV can reach a maximum speed of 357 miles per hour, equivalent to 575 km/h, with a maximum service ceiling listed at 60,000 feet. Its maximum unrefuelled range is 9,950 nautical miles and endurance is 30 hours.
Generally, the Triton is a high-altitude, long-endurance unmanned aircraft system, suitable for conducting continuous sustained operations over an area of interest at long ranges. In addition to reconnaissance missions, MQ-4C can also act as a hub for data transfer and aggregation, allowing connecting units located far away from each other on the battlefield, building a picture of the battlefield space and distribution to each force.The US Navy is currently the only force to operate the MQ-4C line with 68 aircraft ordered, of which two have been handed over and staffed to the unmanned patrol squad number 19. Australia last year signed $5.1 billion contract to buy 6 MQ-4Cs with the system attached, while Germany also expressed interest in owning this UAV in 2025.