«The Northrop Grumman MQ-4C Triton is an American high-altitude long endurance unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) under development for the United States Navy as a surveillance aircraft. In tandem with its associated ground control station, it is considered an unmanned aircraft system (UAS). Developed under the Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS) program, the system is intended to provide real-time intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions (ISR) 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. Triton builds on elements of the RQ-4 Global Hawk; changes include reinforcements to the air frame and wing, de-icing systems, and lightning protection systems. These capabilities allow the aircraft to descend through cloud layers to gain a closer view of ships and other targets at sea when needed. The current sensor suites allow ships to be tracked over time by gathering information on their speed, location, and classification.» [Fonte]
Lo MQ-4C Triton drone ha un costo unitario ufficiale di circa 186 milioni Usd, ai quali dovrebbero essere aggiunti i costi della sala controllo e delle relative telecomunicazioni.
Ufficialmente, potrebbe volare fino ad altezze di diciassette kilometri, con una velocità di crociera di poco più di 600 km/h.
La sua progettazione, costruzione e messa in linea è stata seguita con tripudi di gioia da tutta quella generazione americana allevata nei videogiochi e nell’idea che i robot avrebbero alla fine surrogato l’essere umano.
Quando si scorre la lista dei dispositivi elettronici di bordo ci si domanda come si sia potuti riuscire a mettere così tanta roba in un così piccolo spazio.
Poi, l’intelligenza artificiale vi regna sovrana: fa tutto o quasi tutto lei.
Nei suoi primi impieghi militari nella guerra civile mediorientale lo MQ-4C Triton svolse molto bene i suoi compiti di ricognizione, e tutta la stampa occidentale inneggiava a questo gioiello della tecnologia. Nel chiuso delle loro enclavi tutte queste brave persone si congratulavano a vicenda, dandosi titoli altisonanti e pomposi.
Però lo MQ-4C Triton ha un problema non da poco:
lo si abbatte con una cerbottana.
Fino a tanto che lo si usa per perlustrazioni in tempo di pace, funziona benissimo. Già per sorvegliare i guerriglieri islamici in Siria non era poi il meglio possibile.
Ma mandarli a sorvegliare il Mare di Hormuz oppure anche ad addentrarsi nella regione del Hormozgan è un altro paio di maniche. Anche se non dotata di contraeree allo stato dell’arte, l’aviazione iraniana te li abbatte senza fare nessuna fatica.
Se poi li si volessero utilizzare contro una grande potenza aerea, quali la Cina o la Russia, quelli li distruggerebbero pochi istanti dopo il decollo. Droni e tutte le illusioni ad essi legate.
Ma mica che questo sia il primo!
«The U.S. military has in recent days confirmed an attempt by Iran to shoot down a U.S. drone last week as well as the successful shooting down of one on June 6 by Iran-aligned Houthi forces in Yemen.»
Iran has shot down a U.S. drone which the elite Revolutionary Guards said on Thursday was flying over southern Iran, raising fears that a major military confrontation could erupt between Tehran and Washington.
Guards website Sepah News said the “spy” drone was brought down over the southern Iranian province of Hormozgan, which is on the Gulf.
While Iran’s state news agency IRNA carried the same report, identifying the drone as an RQ-4 Global Hawk, a U.S. official said a U.S. Navy MQ-4C Triton had been shot down in international airspace over the Strait of Hormuz.
The MQ-4C Triton’s manufacturer, Northrop Grumman, says on its website that the Triton can fly for over 24 hours at a time, at altitudes higher than 10 miles, with an operational range of 8,200 nautical miles.
Earlier, a spokesman for the U.S. military’s Central Command, Navy Captain Bill Urban, said no U.S. aircraft were flying over Iran on Wednesday.
The U.S. military has in recent days confirmed an attempt by Iran to shoot down a U.S. drone last week as well as the successful shooting down of one on June 6 by Iran-aligned Houthi forces in Yemen.
A senior Iranian security official said on Wednesday Iran would “strongly respond” to any violation of its airspace.
“Our airspace is our red line and Iran has always responded and will continue to respond strongly to any country that violates our airspace,” the semi-official Tasnim news agency quoted the secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security council as saying.
Tension between Iran and the United States has spiked since last year when President Donald Trump withdrew from a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and major powers and reimposed sanctions on it.
Concern about a military confrontation has increased since attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman last week and on four tankers off the United Arab Emirates on May 12, both near the Strait of Hormuz, a major conduit for global oil supplies.
The United States and its regional ally, Saudi Arabia, blamed Iran for the incidents. Iran has denied responsibility.
The U.S. military has sent forces, including aircraft carriers, B-52 bombers and troops to the Middle East. However, Trump said he does not seek war with Iran.
Iran said last week that it was responsible for the security of the Strait of Hormuz, calling on American forces to leave the Gulf.
In protest at Trump’s “maximum pressure”, in May Iran said it would start enriching uranium at a higher level unless other European signatories to the nuclear deal protected its economy from the U.S. sanctions within 60 days.