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The Triton UAV gets a new communication service. Commercial satellite operator XTAR has been selected by the US Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) to support X-band satellite bandwidth for the MQ-4C Triton UAV.

Triton’s communications payload is built to specifically leverage X-band and military Ka-band frequencies, XTAR will provide an on-demand X-band service.

This marks a move away from Ku-band services traditionally needed for large UAV programmes of record such as the RQ-4B Global Hawk and Predator, according to

‘Now the US has a lot more X-band and military Ka. The navy is a big fan of X-band because of some of its qualities, so they have designed the navy variant of this UAV to operate in this frequency,’ said Philip Harlow, president and CEO of XTAR.

Harlow added: ‘The US does have its own X-Band satellites….Whatever the reason they cannot get onto WGS and you have to go and buy commercial it makes sense to come to XTAR because you can use exactly the same equipment, just point it at our satellite and you’re off and running.’

XTAR launched its satellites in 2005 and 2006 with a view of them having a 15 year lifespan. Triton is the only UAV that the company currently supports but the company has worked with various manned airborne ISR aircraft operationally in the Middle East and Africa.

Triton is set to aid the manned P-8 maritime patrol aircraft when in service. In September 2016 the navy received Milestone C approval for the programme allowing it to enter low rate initial production (LRIP). The MQ-4C Triton UAS is scheduled to be deployed in the fiscal year 2018.

XTAR will support the next phase of testing and evaluation of the Triton programme.

The blanket purchase agreement has a ceiling of $9.8 million and consists of a one-year base with four one-year options. The company has previously held contracts with the US Navy to provide the same service during Triton’s testing and verification phase.