Northrop Grumman revealed Australia’s maiden MQ-4C Triton autonomous aircraft, serial number A57-001, during a ceremony at its high-altitude, long-endurance (HALE) aircraft production site in Palmdale, California, on September 14.
The event was attended by Australian, US government and defence officials and highlighted the continued progress of the MQ-4C Triton program for both the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) and US Navy. Australia is a co-operative partner in the Triton program and was critical in helping shape the requirements for the system. US and Australian defence forces will be able to share data collected by their respective Tritons.
Air Marshal Robert Chipman, chief of the RAAF, said: “Triton will provide the Royal Australian Air Force with an unprecedented capability to monitor and protect our maritime approaches. Triton will work alongside the P-8A Poseidon and this unmanned aircraft system will allow us to cover significant areas, at longer ranges and has the ability to stay airborne longer than a traditional aircraft.”
Northrop Grumman initiated the build of the first RAAF Triton in October 2020 at its production facility in Moss Point, Mississippi. In December 2021, the fuselage and one-piece wing were mated in Palmdale. The aircraft is now scheduled for final system integration and flight tests, with production completion in 2023 and delivery to Australia in 2024.