Northrop Grumman has passed a significant milestone in its production of Australia’s first MQ-4C Triton unmanned reconnaissance aerial system, mounting the aircraft fuselage onto the Triton’s one-piece wing.
The Australian air force is expecting the high-altitude, long-endurance aircraft to enter service in 2024.
The first of the six drones was initially planned for induction in mid-2023. However, production delays pushed the deadline back. All the aircraft are now scheduled to be operational by the end of 2025.
To Team Up With US Navy Tritons
The Triton’s ability to remain in the air for 30 hours at a stretch, covering 9,400 miles (15,200 km), and a mission suite “that provides 360-degree coverage on all sensors,” equips the Royal Australian Air Force to “detect and analyze threats that were previously undetectable.”
The Australian Tritons possess the same configuration as the US Navy’s “multi-intelligence” Tritons, which will help the two countries “share data and maintain an unblinking …reconnaissance and targeting capability over some of the world’s most critical maritime regions.” The US Navy’s Tritons are scheduled to achieve initial operational capability in 2023.
Group Captain Jason Lind said that the “capability will extend Australia’s ability to see and understand our maritime approaches to the north and also as far south as Antarctica.”