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Northrop Grumman conducts first flight of Australian MQ-4C

Northrop Grumman said it expects to deliver the first of four on-order MQ-4C Tritons to Australia by 2024. (Northrop Grumman)

Northrop Grumman has completed the first flight of Australia's on-order MQ-4C Triton remotely piloted aircraft system (RPAS),the company announced on 13 November.

The company said the flight took place on 9 November at its Palmdale Aircraft Integration Center in California. Northrop Grumman said the first of four contracted MQ-4Cs will be delivered to Australia in 2024.

According to the company, the first Australian MQ-4C flight – of more than six hours – evaluated the airworthiness of the engine, flight controls, and fuel system. Basic handling tests were also conducted, it said.

The Australian government approved the Royal Australian Air Force's (RAAF's) purchase of a fourth MQ-4C RPAS in September. The government said the cost of the aircraft, in addition to planned upgrades of its fleet of Boeing P-8A ‘Poseidon' maritime patrol aircraft (MPA), was AUD1.5 billion (USD957 million).

Australia committed to the procurement of the initial three MQ-4C aircraft in 2018. In total, Australia has said it expects to procure six of the type.

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