Northrop Grumman has revealed Australia’s first MQ-4C Triton drone at its Palmdale site in California as it readies the aircraft for systems integration and flight testing.
The MQ-4C Triton is a high-altitude long endurance (HALE) semi-autonomous drone for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) missions. The drone, which can stay aloft for 24 hours entered service for the US Navy in 2018 and is a variant of the land-based RQ-4 Global Hawk.
Australia has ordered three MQ-4Cs and is a cooperative program partner in the Triton program, with Australian Defense Forces helping to shape the requirements for the system.
The first Australian MQ-4C is expected to be completed next year and enter service in 2024.
Tom Jones, corporate vice president and president of Northrop Grumman Aeronautics Systems said, “This is a significant milestone for Australia and the MQ-4C Triton program.
“As we get ready for final system integration and flight test, we are one step closer to delivering this extraordinary maritime awareness capability to Australia.”
Air Marshal Robert Chipman, chief of the Royal Australian Air Force said, “Triton will provide us 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 Australian Triton in October 2020.