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Australia's first MQ-4C Triton unveiled

The mid-2024 arrival of the first MQ-4C Triton autonomous maritime patrol ordered by Australia is expected to enhance the country's maritime surveillance and intelligence gathering operations. (Northrop Grumman/Alan Radecki)

The first Northrop Grumman MQ-4C Triton unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) destined for Australian service was rolled-out on September 15 at the production site in California.

As the first of the three Tritons ordered by the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), the aircraft is scheduled to complete production in 2023, according to the Australian Department of Defence (DoD).

“The aircraft is due to arrive at RAAF Tindale in mid-2024 and operate from that location,” said Air Vice-Marshal Robert Denney, head of Air Force Capability. He was speaking at a press conference during the unveiling of the aircraft.

The autonomous high-altitude, long-endurance (HALE) aircraft is expected to substantially enhance the scope of the country's maritime surveillance operations, according to Air Marshal Robert Chipman, chief of the RAAF.

“Triton will provide the Royal Australian Air Force with an unprecedented capability to monitor and protect our maritime approaches,” Air Mshl Chipman said. “Triton will work alongside the P-8A Poseidon, and this unmanned aircraft system will allow us to cover significant areas, at longer ranges and has the ability to stay airborne longer than a traditional aircraft.”

The RAAF operates 12 P-8 Poseidon multimission aircraft.

According to Jane Bishop, vice-president and general manager of Northrop Grumman's Global Surveillance Division, the MQ-4C can operate for more than 24 hours at more than 50,000 ft and can surveil more than 2.4 million km2 of ocean.

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