The government has confirmed that it will purchase the next MQ-4C Triton Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA).
This aircraft is the second of a planned fleet of at least six Triton aircraft that Australia is acquiring through a $200 million cooperative program with the US Navy. The novel approach requires RAAF to take on a degree of risk in exchange for a limited ability to tailor the program towards unique Australian requirements.
Minister for Defence Christopher Pyne said the Triton acquisition was an important part of strengthening the security of Australia’s maritime borders.
“The Triton – which will complement our manned P-8A Poseidon aircraft – will significantly enhance our anti-submarine warfare and maritime strike capability as well as our ability to monitor and secure Australia’s maritime approaches,” Minister Pyne said.
“These capabilities help us protect our maritime area from threats such as people smuggling, and the exploitation of our natural resources from activities like illegal fishing.
“The Tritons will also be able to undertake enhanced intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance tasks to support whole-of-government operations.”
At last month’s Avalon Airshow, ADM confirmed with RAAF and Northrop Grumman that the option to commit to a seventh Triton was still on the cards.
“We’ve committed to six, but we’ll be looking at attrition aircraft,” GPCPT Jason Lind, Director of ISR, EW and Space for RAAF, said.
“In the sustainment phase in particular there will be significant opportunity for Australian industry to share in billions of dollars of system maintenance and network management functions,” Minister for Defence Industry Linda Reynolds said.
“Just last month Northrop Grumman – the manufacturer of the Triton – signed an Australian Industry Capability Deed with Defence, which will result in even more investment and enhanced opportunities for Australian companies.”
The approval of the second aircraft means that the project is on track to see the first Triton aircraft introduced into service in mid-2023, with all six planned to be delivered by late 2025, based at RAAF Base Edinburgh.