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Australia receives first MQ-4C Triton

The first RAAF Northrop Grumman MQ-4C Triton arrives at its new hangar at RAAF Base Tindal in the Northern Territory on 16 June 2024. (Commonwealth of Australia)

Australia's first Northrop Grumman MQ-4C Triton Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) has arrived at Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Base Tindal in the country's Northern Territory.

The aircraft, which is also known as ‘AUS 1', landed at Tindal on 16 June, the Australian Department of Defence (DoD) said.

The delivery of AUS 1 was preceded by the installation and deployment of MQ-4C-related ground support systems. According to the DoD, a ‘Trailerised' Forward Operating Base (TFOB) was delivered to Tindal in January. The TFOB will operate as the initial ground ‘Mission Control Station' for the MQ-4C, the DoD added.

The first leg of AUS 1's ferry flight, from Palmdale in California to Patuxent River in Maryland, was conducted on 16 February, according to the DoD. At Patuxent River, Northrop Grumman handed the Triton “over to the United States Navy (USN) for final testing, fit-out, and certification prior to embarking on its final journey to Australia,” the DoD said.

According to Group Captain Andrew Leahy, director – Future Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Systems Program Office in Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group (CASG), the project achieved several milestones “at pace” to “ensure” that the RAAF “was ready to receive and operate the Triton”.

“These events form part of a complex series of processes, systems, and technologies that have been integrated in preparation for AUS 1's arrival on home soil,” Gp Capt Leahy said, adding that the system will support the delivery of three additional Tritons on order.

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