Northrop Grumman has initiated the build process for Australia’s first MQ-4C TRITON, a game-changing unmanned maritime ISR platform, the company announced on 27 October. Speakers at a virtual ceremony emphasized the event’s importance.

The MQ-4C TRITON will be a very important ISR capability for Australia,” commented Air Cdre Terry van Haren, Air Attaché at the Australian Embassy in Washington, DC. “It is ideally suited for Australian operating conditions, given its high altitude, long endurance, and impressive sensor suite. The Royal Australian Air Force [RAAF] looks forward to operating the MQ-4C alongside its other ISR and response aircraft, such as the P8A POSEIDON.”

USN TRITON Programme Director, Capt Dan Mackin, applauded the continued progress of the programme, stating, “With much of our team working remotely, geographically dispersed, and across many time zones, I am so impressed with the continued productivity I have seen and the great work being done. Our partnership near and far remains strong as we prepare to deliver the first TRITON aircraft to Australia in 2023.”

As a strategic partner in the cooperative development programme, Australia is a critical part of TRITON’s development and production,” added Doug Shaffer, VP, TRITON Programmes at 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.”

The MQ-4C is a cooperative development programme between the RAAF and the USN, and provides round-the-clock maritime wide-area ISR. Operating at altitudes exceeding 50,000ft, TRITON can cover more than two and a half million square kilometres of ocean and littorals in a single flight, bringing unprecedented awareness to commanders’ common operating pictures.

TRITON can cover 2½ million sq km of ocean in a single mission. (Photo: Northrop Grumman)

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