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Northrop Accepts Maintenance Contract for Australia’s Upcoming MQ-4C Drones

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.

Australia plans to obtain up to six MQ-4Cs by 2025 under the initiative. Northrop Grumman introduced the program’s first system in September 2021.

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.”

Northrop Grumman MQ-4C Triton unmanned aerial vehicle
Northrop Grumman MQ-4C Triton unmanned aerial vehicle

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.

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