The Australian government has announced the purchase of an additional Northrop Grumman MQ-4C Triton remotely piloted aircraft system, bringing the total number of the aircraft ordered to three.
The announcement comes after the company said earlier this year that the Triton offer for Australia was the lowest price it ever made for an unmanned platform.
Australia has a requirement for six Triton RPAS for the Royal Australian Air Force to be delivered as part of the Air 7000 Phase 1B project.
The order also comes after the US administration’s budget request to Congress from earlier this year included a pause on Triton production funding for two years until 2023. This created uncertainty for the program, despite the fact that the proposal left options for resuming US Navy Triton production to resume in 2023.
“The fleet is being developed and purchased through a cooperative program with the US Navy,” Australian defense minister Linda Reynolds commented. “Over AU$475 million is set to be spent locally, with several Australian companies already completing Triton production work for Northrop Grumman Corporation.”
“Once in service, this capability will significantly enhance our ability to persistently patrol Australia’s maritime approaches from the North, in the South West Pacific and down to Antarctica,” Reynolds added.
The Triton RPAS and Australia’s P-8A Poseidon will operate in a complementary way to deliver a maritime patrol and response capability. Triton and Poseidon will also provide support to national security response activities, both domestically and abroad.
Australia’s 12th Poseidon aircraft was delivered in December 2019.