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Defence awaits first MQ-4C Triton arrival as support systems installed

Air Force personnel support the unloading of a “Trailerised” Forward Operating Base (TFOB) from a Royal Australian Air Force C-17A Globemaster III aircraft.

The Department of Defence has announced the first MQ-4C Triton remotely piloted aircraft (AUS 1) will soon arrive in Australia following the successful delivery and installation of its ground support systems.

The Department of Defence has announced the first MQ-4C Triton remotely piloted aircraft (AUS 1) will soon arrive in Australia following the successful delivery and installation of its ground support systems.

As a remotely piloted aircraft system, the MQ-4C Triton, acquired for the Air Force, completed the first leg of its “ferrying flight” on 16 February.

Flown by project industry partner Northrop Grumman, AUS 1 made the initial journey from Palmdale, California, to Patuxent River, Maryland, in the US. There it was handed over to the United States Navy (USN) for final testing, fit-out and certification prior to embarking on its final journey to Australia.


Group Captain Andrew Leahy, director - Future Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Systems Program Office in Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group (CASG), said project milestones have been delivered at pace to ensure Air Force is ready to receive and operate the Triton.

“These events form part of a complex series of processes, systems, and technologies that have been integrated in preparation for AUS 1’s arrival on home soil, and in support of the additional aircraft that will be delivered to complete the RAAF MQ-4C Triton fleet,” GPCAPT Leahy said.

“In January this year, the ‘Trailerised’ Forward Operating Base, which is the initial ground ‘Mission Control Station’ for the MQ-4C Triton, was successfully delivered to RAAF Base Tindal, Northern Territory – representing another significant milestone for the project.”

Head of Air Force Capability, Air Vice-Marshal Wendy Blyth, said Australia is acquiring four MQ-4C Triton aircraft and associated ground support systems through a cooperative program with the USN, in collaboration with the manufacturer of the Triton, Northrop Grumman, which includes training.

“RAAF MQ-4C Triton aircrew have undertaken extensive training by the USN at Naval Air Station, Jacksonville, Florida,” AVM Blyth said.

“These personnel received the same training as their USN counterparts and gained valuable experience to ensure that Air Force is able to deploy the MQ-4C Triton effectively.”

The path to MQ-4C Triton’s successful introduction into Australian service is being realised on the back of many years of close collaboration between the allies and industry.

“These major milestones would not have been possible without the hard work and dedication of combined RAAF and CASG teams spread across Australia and the United States,” AVM Blyth said.

“RAAF and CASG teams have worked in an integrated environment with the USN and industry partners for many years now to ensure that this leading-edge capability is successfully delivered and introduced into RAAF service.”

The MQ-4C Triton is a high-altitude long-endurance remotely piloted aircraft system, which will provide long-range, persistent surveillance across Australia’s maritime approaches and its broader areas of interest.

This capability will complement the ADF’s crewed P-8A Poseidon fleet as a “family of systems” to undertake enhanced intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance tasks to support Defence operations.

“The MQ-4C Triton will deliver unprecedented persistence and awareness over the maritime domain in support of the Integrated Force,” AVM Blyth said.

“Uncrewed aerial systems offer enormous potential to capitalise on the opportunities provided by modern payloads and increased endurance.

“This will significantly enhance our ability to persistently patrol Australia’s north and north-western approaches, in the south-west Pacific and south to Antarctica.”

When in service, the MQ-4C Triton aircraft will be based at RAAF Base Tindal, Northern Territory, and operated by the Air Force’s reformed No. 9 Squadron, located at RAAF Base Edinburgh, South Australia.

The introduction of the Triton will further advance the ADF’s capabilities in the protection of Australia and its national interests – delivered through Defence’s Integrated Investment Program and as directed in the 2024 National Defence Strategy.

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