The Australian government has awarded Northrop Grumman a contract to add a fourth MQ-4C Triton unmanned aerial system to the Royal Australian Air Force’s UAS fleet. The company said production of the three aircraft that were ordered initially is progressing as scheduled.
According to Christine Zeitz, CEO and general manager of Northrop’s Australia and New Zealand operations, the expanded uncrewed aircraft fleet will enhance RAAF’s surveillance capability in protecting the country’s maritime territories. The MQ-4Cs are also expected to be deployed to help the service monitor critical sea lanes in the Indo-Pacific.
The expanded agreement includes the establishment of ground stations within RAAF installations in Edinburgh, South Australia and Tindal, Northern Territory.
The contractor said it will recruit from the local workforce and provide training for personnel to man the sites and support the UAV fleet.
When it becomes operational, the Triton fleet will serve as an advanced intelligence-gathering instrument and a communication platform to support the secure transfer of data across Australia’s warfighting domains and various mission requirements.
Northrop has scheduled the Australian Triton’s initial flight for later this year at the Palmdale Aircraft Integration Center in California. The timeline aligns with the company’s target of delivering the first MQ-4C to the RAAF in 2024.