Australian Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds has announced the acquisition of a third Northrop Grumman MQ-4C TRITON UAS, describing the procurement as an important step in protecting Australia’s borders and making the region more secure.
“Once in service, this capability will significantly enhance our ability to persistently patrol Australia’s maritime approaches from the North, in the South West Pacific and down to Antarctica,” the Minister stated. “The fleet is being developed and purchased through a cooperative programme with the US Navy. This programme strengthens our ability to develop advanced maritime surveillance capability and ensure our capabilities remain complementary with our security partners, while sharing in the benefits of their technical expertise and project costs […] Our membership of the cooperative programme gives us the confidence to acquire our third TRITON. We will continue to work closely with the United States to assure our future capability […] Together we are developing this cutting-edge military technology to the highest standards. This work will help ensure Australia’s maritime region is secure well into the future.”
The USN’s TRITON aircraft have commenced operations in the region and are already demonstrating their operational value. The project provides significant opportunities for Australian defence industry, including the construction of facilities in South Australia and the Northern Territory, software integration, engineering, logistics and component manufacturing. “Over $475 million is set to be spent locally, with several Australian companies already completing TRITON production work for Northrop Grumman Corporation,” the Minister added.
TRITON and P-8A POSEIDON aircraft will operate in a complementary manner to deliver a comprehensive Maritime Patrol and Response capability. Australia’s 12th POSEIDON was delivered last December and aircraft from the fleet have since been deployed on several overseas operations, performing to a very high standard. The two airframes will also provide support to national security response activities, both domestically and abroad.