The Australian government will provide funding for an additional MQ-4C Triton aircraft and associated ground mission control stations from Northrop Grumman, bringing its current total commitment to three aircraft. Australia currently intends to purchase six aircraft.
A cooperative development program between the Royal Australian Air Force and the U.S. Navy, the MQ-4C Triton provides a round-the-clock maritime wide-area intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capability. With its ability to operate at altitudes exceeding 50,000 feet and cover more than two million square miles of ocean and littorals in a single flight, Triton provides what Northrop Grumman describes as “unprecedented awareness to operational commanders’ common operating pictures.”
“As a strategic partner in the cooperative development program, Australia is a critical part of Triton’s development and production,” says Doug Shaffer, vice president, Triton programs, Northrop Grumman.
“This game-changing system will boost Australia’s ISR capability and enable them to meet their surveillance needs to manage the world’s third largest exclusive economic zone.”
Australia has also committed funds for the main operating base at RAAF Edinburgh in South Australia that allows for a permanent control station. The country has also committed funds for a forward operating base at RAAF Tindal in the Northern Territory that enables the Triton system to be deployed to support Australian national security requirements.
With a program of record for 68 aircraft, the U.S. Navy is planning five operational Triton orbits across the world. As one of the United States’ key allies and a strategic partner in the Pacific, Australia would be able to provide a sixth.