Northrop Grumman has signed an agreement to provide initial sustainment services for the Royal Australian Air Force’s future MQ-4C Triton aerial drone fleet.
The contract is part of Australia’s Maritime Patrol and Response program to develop a fleet of unmanned aerial vehicles and provide upgrades to the country’s P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft.
A year later, the company received a contract to supply the government with an additional MQ-4C platform.
Australian Aerospace Systems Division Head Graham Edwards explained how the technical support contract will affect the upcoming MQ-4C Triton fleet’s initial service period.
“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,” he said.
“The MQ-4C Triton will provide long-range, persistent surveillance across Australia’s maritime approaches and its broader areas of interest.”
First Triton Next Year
Northrop Grumman will deliver the Australian military’s first MQ-4C in 2024.
Once deployed, the system will be based at Base Tindal and operated by the reformed 9 Squadron at Base Edinburgh, South Australia.
“The Triton capability will enhance operations from Australia’s northern bases, which was identified as a priority under the Defence Strategic Review,” Edwards stated.
“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.”
Further Technical Support Expected
Northrop Grumman will perform work under the MQ-4C maintenance contract until 2027. During this period, Australia will pursue additional agreements to establish through-life support for drones.
“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,” Edwards said.