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Australia’s first MQ-4C Triton has been unveiled

Australia’s first MQ-4C Triton Remotely Piloted Aircraft System, acquired under Project AIR 7000 Ph.1B, has been rolled out at Northrop Grumman’s Palmdale plant in California. The aircraft is on track for production completion in 2023 ahead of final delivery to Australia in mid-2024.

Head Air Force Capability, Air Vice-Marshal Robert Denney, said the MQ-4C would support intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance roles, as well as a broad range of joint effects fully integrated into Defence’s combat architecture.

“Once in service, the remotely piloted High Altitude Long Endurance aerial system will significantly enhance our ability to persistently patrol Australia’s north and north-western approaches, in the south-west Pacific and south to Antarctica,” Air Vice-Marshal Denney said.

“Triton will complement the surveillance role of the P-8A Poseidon by providing sustained operations at long ranges, and undertaking a range of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance tasks.

“I look forward to exploring the ways in which Triton will enhance our Defence capabilities in the future.”

Northrop Grumman Australia signed an acquisition services contract with Defence earlier this year, aimed at supporting the planning required to establish a sovereign sustainment capability before the RAAF Triton fleet enters service. The company has also deliverd the Triton Network Integration Test Environment (NITE) to Defence ahead of schedule.

Located at RAAF Base Edinburgh, NITE is expected to support the Chief Information Officer Group (CIOG) to configure and test the Triton network interfaces and systems ahead of delivery.

Head Aerospace Systems Division, Air Vice-Marshal Leon Phillips, commended Defence’s effective partnership with the United States Navy through the Triton Cooperative Program and with the manufacturer of the Triton, Northrop Grumman.

“This project is an excellent example of the successful partnership between our two nations and reflects the collaborative work between Defence and defence industry in delivering this strategic capability,” Air Vice-Marshal Phillips said.

“Defence will invest more than $900 million in Australian industry, including sustainment, ICT and facilities.”

Defence expects the first aircraft, of up to seven in total, to be completed and delivered to Australia in 2024.

Once delivered, the MQ-4C Tritons will be primarily based at RAAF Base Tindal in the Northern Territory while being controlled from facilities at RAAF Base Edinburgh.

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