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Australia’s first MQ-4C Triton unveiled

MQ-4C RAAF Triton

Northrop Grumman unveiled Australia’s first MQ-4C Triton High Altitude, Long Endurance (HALE) unmanned aircraft for the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) on September 14 in Palmdale, California airplane. Triton would be particularly useful in protecting the waters off northern Australia.

Northrop Grumman construction began in October 2020, and the fuselage and one-piece wings were joined in December 2021. Production is scheduled to complete in 2023, with deliveries to Australia in 2024. Triton’s specified ceilings exceed 50,000 feet (15,240 meters) and more than 24 hours of battery life.

“Triton will provide the RAAF with an unprecedented capability to monitor and protect our maritime approaches,” RAAF Commander Air Marshal Robert Chipman said at the event.

“The Triton will work with the P-8A Poseidon, an unmanned aircraft system that will allow us to cover important areas over greater distances and be able to stay in the air for longer than conventional aircraft.”

A total of six Tritons are planned to be acquired with Northrop, with the first three currently under contract. They will be based in RAAF Edinburgh and operate with RAAF’s fleet of Boeing P-8A Poseidon aircraft. Tritons was acquired under the Australian Government’s AIR 7000 Phase 2 “Series of Systems” program. It is a partnership with the U.S. Navy to develop, produce and maintain the Triton capability.

Triton will provide the RAAF with wide-area intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and targeting (ISR&T) capabilities, with initial operational capability (IOC) expected in 2026.

by Andrew Drwiega

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