By Kaylee LaRocque

NAS Jax Public Affairs Officer

Northrop Grumman Corporation representatives officially turned over the new Triton Unmanned Aerial Systems Operator Training Facility to the Navy during a ribbon-cutting ceremony aboard NAS Jacksonville April 27. The event was held in conjunction of the 2017 Maritime Patrol Association Symposium. 

""We stand in front of a building that is more than just a building. It is the home of the Triton mission systems trainer where in just a few short months, a large group of aircrew will parade through these doors to learn the ins and outs of this transformational platform," said Doug Shaffer, Northrop Grumman Corporation vice president and Triton program manager.

"This new platform will give unbelievable persistence and domain awareness to maritime patrol. If you look back at the past couple months and the success the Triton system has had with the community we've made many strides. Unmanned Patrol Squadron (VUP) 19 was commissioned in October 2016, all the hardware for this training facility has been installed, we're delivering our first two aircraft to Point Mugu later this year and plan to deploy the aircraft in 2018. This is definitely a team effort between industry teams, the acquisition community and the fleet."

"This year is all about execution," said Rear Adm. Kyle Cozad, commander, Patrol and Reconnaissance Wing.

"On May 8, 2009, I had the honor of cutting the ribbon to open Hangar 511. Now, we are here cutting the ribbon for this Triton Training Facility. It's really the golden spike of our railroad. Since I left Wing Eleven, $267 million has been invested in our maritime community. We've come a long way. This is a historic day for us and it's really exciting to be part of all this. 

Guests were invited to view the new facility where Cmdr. Joe Opp, Triton UAS Operator Training Facility Officer in Charge, explained the pilot training pipeline and some of the features of the new system. 

"Our job is to track contacts and provide data to the fleet," said Opp.

"This data provides pattern of life and gives updates on where the contacts are so the battle groups have current information." 

"The pilots start in a classroom setting, learning emergency procedures, what the system does, how it works and the parts of the aircraft," explained Opp. "The next curriculum allows them to learn the software and the scenarios in the fleet before working their way up to a NATOPs [Naval Air Training and Operating Procedures Standardization] check. They will then complete a tactical phase before being assigned to VUP-19 as a pilot of these unmanned aircraft."

"So when they leave here and arrive at VUP-19, they can be certified as plane commanders," he added. "When they arrive at the squadron, the pilots are put on a watchbill to fly. These aircraft will fly 365 days a year, 24/7 around the world."

VUP-19 currently operates out of Naval Air Station Jacksonville and is the first Navy unmanned aircraft squadron. The first two aircraft will arrive at NAS Point Mugu, California, later this year with their first deployment scheduled for 2018.