First RAAF Triton UAV moves closer to arrival

RAAF-MQ-4C-Triton-CGI-1

The first Northrop Grumman MQ-4C Triton high-altitude long endurance unmanned aerial vehicle (HALE UAV) on order for the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) will soon arrive home following the successful delivery and installation of its ground support systems, the Australian Department of Defence (DoD) announced on 12 June.

The DoD added that the aircraft, designated AUS 1, also completed the first leg of its ferry flight from Northrop Grumman’s Palmdale, California production facility to the US Navy in Patuxent River, Maryland, on 16 February for final testing, fit-out and certification prior to embarking on its final journey to Australia.

“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; and in support of the additional aircraft that will be delivered to complete the RAAF MQ-4C Triton fleet,” said Group Captain Andrew Leahy, Director – Future Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Systems Program Office in Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group (CASG).

“In January this year, the ‘Trailerised’ Forward Operating Base, which is the initial ground ‘Mission Control Station’ for the MQ-4C Triton, was successfully delivered to RAAF Base Tindal, Northern Territory – representing another significant milestone for the project,” added Group Captain Leahy.

According to the DoD, the MQ-4C Triton will support long-range, persistent surveillance across Australia’s maritime approaches and its broader areas of interest and complement the RAAF’s Boeing P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft fleet as a ‘family of systems’ that will offer improved intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) performance.

When in service, the MQ-4C Triton aircraft will be based at RAAF Base Tindal, Northern Territory, and operated by the Air Force’s reformed 9 Squadron, located at RAAF Base Edinburgh, South Australia.

Australia earlier announced plans to acquire a fourth high-altitude long endurance Triton UAV along with upgrades to its P-8A fleet.

In addition, the DoD has signed of an Interim Sustainment Support Contract with Northrop Grumman Australia valued at A$220 million aimed at growing the Triton maintenance workforce at RAAF Base Tindal and RAAF Base Edinburgh.

by Jr Ng