Northrop Grumman announced June 19, 2020, the Australian government’s decision to provide funding for an additional three of their planned six MQ-4C Tritons and associated ground mission control stations.
The MQ-4C Triton is a cooperative development program between the Royal Australian Air Force and the U.S. Navy, and provides a round-the-clock maritime wide-area intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capability. Operating at altitudes exceeding 50,000 feet, Triton can cover more than 2 million square miles of ocean and littorals in a single flight, bringing unprecedented awareness to operational commanders’ common operating pictures.
“As a strategic partner in the cooperative development program, Australia is a critical part of Triton’s development and production,” said Doug Shaffer, vice president, Triton programs, Northrop Grumman. “This game-changing system will boost Australia’s ISR capability and enable them to meet their surveillance needs to manage the world’s third largest exclusive economic zone.”
In addition to the aircraft, Australia has also committed funds for the main operating base at RAAF Edinburgh in South Australia and a forward operating base at RAAF Tindal in the Northern Territory. The main operating base allows for a permanent control station while the forward operating base enables deployment of the Triton system to support Australian national security requirements. The U.S. Navy – with a program of record for 68 aircraft – is planning five operational Triton orbits around the globe. Australia, as one of the United States’ key allies and a strategic partner in the Pacific, would be able to provide a sixth.