Australia officially announces MQ-4C Triton RPAS purchase

The security of Australia’s maritime borders will be significantly strengthened with another major military investment. The Turnbull Government will invest AUD$1.4 billion and acquire the first of six MQ-4C Triton remotely piloted aircraft through a cooperative program with the United States Navy, Australia's Minister for Defence Industry Christopher Pyne announced today.

Australia officially announces MQ 4C Triton RPAS purchase 001 An artistic rendering of RAAF' future MQ-4C Triton UAS
(Credit: Australian Ministry of Defence Industry)

The Triton will complement the surveillance role of the P-8A Poseidon aircraft through sustained operations at long ranges as well as being able to undertake a range of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance tasks.

Together these aircraft will significantly enhance the country's anti-submarine warfare and maritime strike capability, as well as our search and rescue capability.

"Our number one priority is keeping Australians safe. This investment will protect our borders and make our region more secure," Pyne said. 

As part of this investment Australia will also enter into a AUD$200 million cooperative program with the United States Navy for the development, production and sustainment of the MQ-4C Triton.

Triton provides unprecedented endurance and 360-degree coverage through its unique sensor suite,” said Doug Shaffer, vice president of Triton programs, Northrop Grumman. “Australia has one of the largest sea zones in the world over which it has rights to use marine resources, also known as an Economic Exclusion Zone. As a flexible platform, Triton can serve in missions as varied as maritime domain awareness, target acquisition, fisheries protection, oil field monitoring and humanitarian relief.

As part of the initial AUD$1.4 billion investment in the Triton system, the Australian Government will invest AUS$364 million on new facilities at RAAF Base Edinburgh and RAAF Base Tindal, as well the necessary ground control systems, support and training required to implement a project of this nature.

The project is expected to create about 70 jobs across South Australia and the Northern Territory.

Northrop Grumman as supplier of the Triton will play a lead role in delivering the capability in Australia. This investment follows Northrop’s commitment to a AUD$50 million advanced Electronic Sustainment Centre of Excellence at the new Western Sydney Airport.

Australia has already taken delivery of seven Poseidon aircraft and achieved Initial Operational Capability earlier this year. The full fleet of 12 Poseidon aircraft is expected to be delivered and in operation by 2022.

The first of the Triton aircraft is expected to be introduced into service in mid-2023 with all six aircraft planned to be delivered and in operation by late 2025, based at RAAF Base, Edinburgh in South Australia.

"The Orion fleet has performed exceptionally on operations throughout its distinguished service, and the last of these aircraft will be over 40 years old when they are withdrawn from service in 2023," Pyne concluded.