Australia has committed to purchasing its third Northrop Grumman MQ-4C Triton unmanned aircraft.
FILE PHOTO: An MQ-4C Triton arrives at Naval Base Ventura County after a flight from Palmdale, California, that was remotely controlled from NAS Pax River, Maryland. US Navy photo by Public Affairs Specialist Theresa Miller.
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Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds said the Triton acquisition was an important part of protecting Australia’s borders and making the region more secure.
The one-aircraft-at-a-time approach is very unusual, however, and so far unexplained.
“Once in service, this capability will significantly enhance our ability to persistently patrol Australia’s maritime approaches from the north, in the South West Pacific and down to Antarctica,” Minister Reynolds said.
“The fleet is being developed and purchased through a cooperative program with the US Navy.
“This program strengthens our ability to develop advanced maritime surveillance capability and ensure our capabilities remain complementary with our security partners, while sharing in the benefits of their technical expertise and project costs.
“Our membership of the cooperative program gives us the confidence to acquire our third Triton.
“We will continue to work closely with the United States to assure our future capability.
“Together we are developing this cutting-edge military technology to the highest standards.
“This work will help ensure Australia’s maritime region is secure well into the future.
“US Navy’s Triton aircraft have commenced operations in our region and are already demonstrating their operational value.
“This project provides significant opportunities for Australian defence industry including the construction of facilities in South Australia and the Northern Territory, software integration, engineering, logistics and manufacturing of components.
“[More than] $475 million is set to be spent locally, with several Australian companies already completing Triton production work for Northrop Grumman Corporation,” Minister Reynolds said.
Defence told CONTACT two years ago, “The purchase of six MC-4C Triton Remotely Piloted Aircraft, represents a $6.9 billion investment in Australia’s maritime security over the life of the capability“.
Today’s announcement brings Australia’s total Triton purchases thus far to three, from what the government says will be a total of six aircraft, but the RAAF continues to say seven.