Navy awards drone hangar contract

MQ-4C Triton: Two Northrop Grumman MQ-4C Triton unmanned aerial vehicles are seen on the tarmac at a Northrop Grumman test facility in Palmdale, Calif. Triton is undergoing flight testing as an unmanned maritime surveillance vehicle. The Navy’s MQ-4C Triton Unmanned Aircraft System, a relatively new unmanned surveillance aircraft, will have a hangar at Andersen Air Force Base. The Navy announced that a $45.4 million contract to design and build a maintenance hangar was awarded to Guam MACC Builders A JV, a large business based in Honolulu. U.S. Navy photo courtesy of Northrop Grumman by Chad Slattery

The Navy announced a $45.4 million contract to design and build a maintenance hangar for a relatively new unmanned surveillance aircraft, which will be housed at Andersen Air Force Base.

“The addition of maintenance and hangar facilities at Andersen Air Force Base for the Navy’s MQ-4C Triton Unmanned Aircraft System further demonstrates the investment being made by the Department of Defense to increase our capability in the Marianas as we rebalance to the Pacific,” Rear Adm. Tilghman Payne, commander of Joint Region Marianas, said in a press release.

President Barack Obama and military officials have said the U.S. military is moving to “pivot” more of its resources from the Atlantic to the Asia-Pacific region.

The MQ-4C Triton’s first flight occurred in May 2013, according to its maker, Northrop Grumman Corp. Just a few days ago, the manufacturer and the Navy conducted subsequent test flights in California, clearing the aircraft to fly at various altitudes, speeds and weights, Northrop Grumman announced on March 24.

Triton drones were built for the U.S. Navy’s Broad Area Maritime Surveillance, or BAMS, program. Tritons are used to conduct surveillance across vast ocean and coastal regions, according to Northrop Grumman.

Andersen already hosts Global Hawks, the Air Force’s unmanned surveillance aircraft. Two of the Global Hawks stationed at Andersen will be deployed to Japan from May to October, along with about 40 personnel, the Air Force Times reported.

The deployment comes as the Air Force has switched its position from retiring the Global Hawk fleet to now retiring the U-2, the 50-year-old spy plane, because of cost concerns.

The $45.4 million contract to design and build a maintenance hangar for drones was awarded to Guam MACC Builders A JV, a large business based in Honolulu.

The contract also contains two unexercised options, which would increase the project’s cumulative task order value to $46.7 million, the Naval Facilities Engineering Command Pacific announced.

The hangar is expected to be completed by April 2016.

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