Northrop Grumman has signed an agreement with the Australian government, committing the US corporation to expand its engagement with local industry on programmes including the MQ-4C Triton unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).
The Australian Industry Capability (AIC) Deed was signed on 28 February at the 2019 Avalon Airshow by Steven Ciobo, Australia's defence industry minister, and Warren King, chairman of Northrop Grumman Australia's advisory board.
Northrop Grumman said the agreement establishes a framework to deliver "real opportunities for Australian industry in major defence programmes; in particular the MQ-4C Triton programme with the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF)".
Speaking to Jane's , Edward Graziano, Northrop Grumman's director of international Triton programmes, said the AIC Deed provides "ground rules and assumptions" under which the corporation will partner with local defence companies.
"Our aim is to be intertwined within the fabric of Australian industry," he said. "We want to establish a technology base that benefits Triton and other projects that we are working on."
In a government press release Ciobo said, "Traditionally, when we buy defence capability from our allied governments locking in opportunities for Australian companies is difficult. But our commitment to leveraging that investment to grow and strengthen our industrial base is unwavering."
In June 2018 the Australian government outlined a commitment to procure six MQ-4C Triton UAVs, with all platforms planned to be operational by the mid-2020s.
Australia has already contracted Northrop Grumman to deliver the first of these platforms, as well as related operating bases, and approval to procure the second UAV is expected later this year. The total value of the programme is expected to be about AUD7 billion (USD5 billion).
Australia's AIC policy is one of the centre-pieces of the government's plan to develop domestic defence industry capability.
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