The Royal Australian Air Force’s (RAAF) first-ever MQ-4C Triton drone has achieved a new milestone after completing its inaugural flight in Palmdale, California.
The maiden flight, held on November 9, was carried out amid weeks of delay due to unspecified technical issues in previous taxi tests.
Reports said the unmanned system took off at about midday, flew for over four hours, and descended along an elongated orbital track over central California from an altitude of 54,100 feet (16,490 meters).
It also reportedly recorded a speed of 336 knots (622 kilometers/387 miles per hour).
Once all aircraft trials are completed, the US Navy will run a series of calibration and certification tests before handing it over to the RAAF in 2024 if there are no further delays.
Enhancing Maritime Surveillance Fleet
In September 2022, Northrop Grumman unveiled Australia’s first MQ-4C drone at its aircraft production site in California.
The autonomous aircraft will enhance the country’s maritime surveillance fleet by providing real-time intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance over its coastal regions.
It will be able to cover up to 15,000 kilometers (9,320 miles) of territory and stay airborne longer than other unmanned platforms.
In late 2021, the Australian Triton achieved a milestone after the company successfully mounted the aircraft fuselage into its one-piece wing.
Canberra has ordered a total of four MQ-4Cs to be based at RAAF Base Tindal, Northern Territory.