Northrop Grumman has been awarded an $8 million contract to build the MQ-4C Triton Network Integration Test Environment, which will be located at RAAF Base Edinburgh in South Australia.
The NITE signals the start of growth in the Australian workforce necessary to support the Triton program. It is expected that the Triton program will deliver more than 75 jobs for Australian workers.
NITE will be developed in three phases, allowing the RAAF to progress from basic continuity testing between distributed environments to advanced integration capability development environment via server farm, network storage and virtualisation.
Chris Deeble, chief executive of Northrop Grumman Australia, explained, "The NITE will enable the Royal Australian Air Force to develop networks for test and engineering, as well as operations, ahead of Australia receiving its first Triton ground control stations and air vehicles."
Australia is currently scheduled to receive their first ground control station in 2022 and their first of six to seven Triton air vehicles in 2023. Northrop Grumman is already building long lead items and is scheduled to begin building the airframe for Australia’s first air vehicle later this year.
"This is a significant milestone as the Australian Triton program continues to mature," Deeble added.
Remotely flying out of RAAF Edinburgh, South Australia, the Tritons are capable of monitoring 5.2 million square kilometres in a 24 hour mission and seamlessly flying a round trip for sustained surveillance and in support of allied freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea from the Northern Territory – increasing Australia’s interoperability with key allies, particularly the US.
The Triton is designed to operate in conjunction with Australia’s planned fleet of 12 manned P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol and anti-submarine aircraft.
The nation's Tritons provide a quantum leap in the nation’s surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities, while the facilities and crew required to operate, train and maintain will be part of the initial $1.4 billion investment, which includes $364 million on new facilities at RAAF Bases Edinburgh and Tindal (in NT).
Northrop Grumman’s MQ-4C Triton unmanned aircraft system (UAS) provides real-time intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance over vast ocean and coastal regions.
Based on the proven Global Hawk UAS, Triton’s autonomous operations are supported by land-based command and control mission planners and sensor operators. Triton will be equipped with a unique and robust mission sensor suite that provides 360-degree coverage on all sensors, providing unprecedented maritime domain awareness for the US Navy.