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MQ-4C Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS)
RQ-4A Broad Area Maritime Surveillance - Demonstrator (BAMS-D)
Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS)

The MQ-4C Triton Unmanned Aircraft System (MQ-4C Triton) is an integrated System of Systems and a force multiplier for the Joint Force and Fleet Commander, enhancing battlespace awareness and shortening the sensor-to-shooter kill chain. The system provides multiple-sensor, persistent maritime and littoral Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance data collection and dissemination as well as an airborne communications relay capability to Combatant Commanders, Expeditionary Strike Group Commanders, Carrier Strike Group Commanders, and other designated U.S. and Joint Commanders. The addition of a de-icing capability over the baseline Global Hawk provides operators with the capability to transition through icing conditions. The mission sensors installed on the MQ-4C Triton provide 360 degree radar and Electro-Optical/lnfrared coverage. Additional functionality that optimizes the system for maritime search operations includes an Automatic Identification System and an Electronic Support Measures system. The MQ-4C Triton is a tactical, landbased, forward deployed platform that will operate from five operational sites (orbits) worldwide. It will provide surveillance when no other naval forces are present and will support operations in the littorals. Furthermore, the asset will respond to theater level operational or national strategic taskings.

The MQ-4C Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS) System is an adjunct to the P-8A Multi-Mission Aircraft (MMA). The MQ-4C's persistence, combined with networked sensor data, will enable the unmanned aircraft family of systems to meet requirements more effectively. As of January 2012, the MQ-4C was planned to be forward deployed, operating under the cognizance of the maritime patrol and reconnaissance force to leverage manpower, infrastructure, and expertise. This land-based system would provide persistent maritime reconnaissance and basic communications relay capabilities from 5 operational sites (orbits) worldwide in support of fleet commanders and coalition and joint forces.

As an adjunct to the P-8A, the BAMS UAS will provide combat information to operational and tactical users such as the Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG), Carrier Strike Group (CSG), and the Joint Forces Maritime Component Commander (JFMCC). B AMS UAS will provide intelligence preparation of the environment by providing a more continuous source of information to maintain the Common Operational and Tactical Picture (COTP) of the maritime battle space. Additionally, BAMS UAS-collected data posted to the Global Information Grid (GIG) will support a variety of intelligence activities and nodes. In a secondary role, the BAMS UAS will also be used alone or in conjunction with other assets to respond to theater-level operational or national strategic tasking.

The MQ-4C BAMS UAS air vehicle is based upon the United States Air Force RQ-4B Global Hawk, while its sensors are based upon components of (or entire systems) already fielded in the Department of Defense inventory. Along with the P-8A and the EP-X manned aircraft, the BAMS UAS is integral to the Navy's Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Force (MPRF) Family of Systems airborne intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance recapitalization strategy. The MPRF is the operational agent for the BAMS UAS and Commander, Patrol and Reconnaissance Group is the fleet sponsor for the manned/unmanned integration concept. The BAMS UAS’s ability to perform persistent intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance within a range of 2,000 nautical miles allows the P-8A and EP-X aircraft to focus on their core missions, Anti-Surface Ship Warfare/weapons employment and Multi-Intelligence operations respectively. The MPRF manned/unmanned Concept of Operations will also potentially leverage USAF RQ-4 cross-platform training, operational, basing and support synergies which will result in the most effective and efficient means of providing maritime ISR capability to the Fleet.

In 2006, as part of the BAMS development process, Naval Air Systems Command's (NAVAIR) Navy & Marine Corps Unmanned Air Systems (PMA-263) also acquired a number or RQ-4A aircraft as part of the Global Hawk Maritime Demonstration (GHMD) program for the development of Navy doctrine and concepts of operations for large persistent unmanned air vehicles. That system is sustained by the Persistent Maritime Unmanned Aircraft Systems (PMA-262) program office and was renamed the Broad Area Maritime Surveillance — Demonstrator (BAMS-D). The BAMS-D team has utilized the RQ-4A long endurance air vehicle to refine tactics, techniques and procedures for use in a maritime environment.

The BAMS-D RQ-4A Global Hawk air vehicle can soar nearly 11 miles above the ground or up to 60,000 feet. The high-flying aerial vehicle can fly persistently for more than 30 hours above most weather. Imagery and other data obtained by the aircraft feeds by satellite into the Navy ground segment consisting of a mission control element, a launch and recovery element, and a Navy-designed Tactical Auxiliary Ground Station . Flown by Navy and Navy contractor pilots, the asset is controlled from Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland.

The MQ-4C Triton is doing “better than expected”, the US Navy’s program executive officer said 15 April 2021 following a year of deployment in Guam. The US Navy Unmanned Patrol Squadron 19 tested the Triton during its deployment in Guam over the previous 12 months. The squadron deployed two MQ-4Cs in January 2020 in a bid to establish early operational capability, with the UAVs providing surveillance for the US 7th Fleet while also exercising the logistics train expected to support future deployments.

Unmanned Patrol Squadron (VUP) 19 operated two MQ-4C Triton out of Anderson Air Force in Guam. With new capabilities VUP-19 can support operations from nearly any U.S. facility in the world. The Triton program team coordinated a C-17 airlift to move the unmanned air system’s expeditionary Forward Operating Base (FOB) at Pax River to a forward location on 13 April 2021 in an effort to increase Triton’s operational flexibility in the future. The fleet requested this expeditionary capability to provide the Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Fleet (MPRF) additional geographic flexibility to support operations beginning in summer 2021.

The United States deployed two MQ-4C Triton drones at Misawa air base in Japan's Aomori prefecture for five months, with the first drone put into service on 15 May 2021. The Japanese Defence Ministry believed that the temporary deployment of a long endurance unmanned aerial vehicle for reconnaissance will boost security by enhancing the country's ability to monitor activities in Japan's and surrounding waters. The Northrop Grumman MQ-4C Triton can stay in the air for up to 30 hours and climb to an altitude of 17,000 meters (10.5 miles), which will allow Japan to monitor vast sea areas. In the recent years, Japan had been particularly concerned about China's activity near the disputed Senkaku Islands (known in mainland China as the Diaoyu Islands), and regular entry by Chinese patrol ships into Japan's territorial waters. The Navy MQ-4C Tritons joined Air Force RQ-4 Global Hawk surveillance drones on a temporary deployment to Japan for the first time. US forces had temporarily deployed Guam-based Global Hawks to Japan since 2014.

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Page last modified: 15-06-2021 16:09:47 ZULU