The Australian Department of Defence has signed an interim sustainment support contract with Northrop Grumman Australia to provide initial sustainment for the MQ-4C Triton remotely piloted aircraft system being acquired for the Royal Australian Air Force.
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The government is acquiring four Triton aircraft plus associated support and mission systems as part of enhancements to the Air Force’s Maritime Patrol and Response program.
Head Aerospace Systems Division Air Vice-Marshal Graham Edwards said the contract signing, announced on 8 October, would solidify “a significant undertaking between Defence and Northrop Grumman Australia to establish interim technical support and maintenance for the MQ-4C Triton’s initial period of service”.
“The Triton remotely piloted aircraft system is a highly sophisticated developmental technology requiring adaptive acquisition, integration, transition and sustainment strategies to achieve its complex capability outcomes,” AVM Edwards said.
“The MQ-4C Triton will provide long-range, persistent surveillance across Australia’s maritime approaches and its broader areas of interest.
“The Triton capability will enhance operations from Australia’s northern bases, which was identified as a priority under the Defence Strategic Review.
“This capability will also complement our crewed P-8A Poseidon aircraft and be able to undertake enhanced intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance tasks to support Defence operations.”
The first aircraft, including the relevant ground and support systems, is due to be delivered to Australia in 2024. When in service, the Triton will be based at RAAF Base Tindal, Northern Territory, and operated by the newly reformed No. 9 Squadron at RAAF Base Edinburgh, South Australia.
“The award of this contract to Northrop Grumman Australia will build and develop the highly skilled workforce required to sustain this complex, leading-edge Defence capability,” AVM Edwards said.
The contract is intended to operate until July 2027, by which time Defence plans to establish an ongoing through-life support contract.