Home Air Australia re-raises WWII squadron ahead of first MQ-4C RPAS arrival

Australia re-raises WWII squadron ahead of first MQ-4C RPAS arrival

Royal Australian Air Force photo of an MQ-4C Triton replica at the 2023 Avalon International Airshow.

The Royal Australian Air Force’s 9 Squadron reformed on June 11, to prepare for the delivery and operation of the Northrop Grumman-built MQ-4C Triton remotely piloted aircraft system.

The squadron has a proud wartime history, serving during World War 2 and the Vietnam War.

9 Squadron will reform in 92 Wing Surveillance and Response Group. The headquarters will be located at RAAF Base Edinburgh and most Triton operations will occur from RAAF Base Tindal.

Triton will form part of Australia’s maritime intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capability, complementing Air Force’s P-8A Poseidon.

An Australian defense ministry statement specified that two aircraft systems would provide a maritime patrol and response capability for Australia, even though Northrop Grumman has a contract to deliver three systems to Australia. The defense ministry previously also said it is looking to procure up to seven systems in total, pending government approval.

Initially formed in 1939, 9 Squadron saw active service during World War 2 in the Mediterranean Sea and the Indian and Pacific Oceans, receiving 12 battle honors.

Following initial disbandment in 1944, 9 Squadron reformed 61 years ago on June 11, 1962, as a helicopter squadron undertaking active service in the Vietnam War. The squadron was then disbanded again in 1989.

Chief of Air Force Air Marshal Rob Chipman said the re-establishment of 9 Squadron marked the beginning of a new era in the squadron’s distinguished history.

“9 Squadron has played an incredibly important role in the Royal Australian Air Force, serving during critical times for Australia’s security,” Air Marshal Chipman said.

“I’m proud to see the squadron return to service in 2023.”

Officer Commanding 92 Wing Group Captain Paul Carpenter said that as Air Force enters its second century, the MQ-4C Triton represented a fundamental change in utilising airpower.

“Uncrewed aerial systems offer enormous potential to capitalise on the opportunities provided by modern payloads and increased endurance,” Group Captain Carpenter said.

“This will deliver unprecedented persistence and awareness over the maritime domain in support of the Integrated Force.”

The reformation of 9 Squadron was announced by defense minister Richard Marles during the 2023 Australian International Airshow.

The Australian defense ministry expects the delivery of it’s first Triton, including the relevant ground and support systems, next year.

An initial operating capability for the system that can provide over 24 hours of surveillance at a time at altitudes of over 50,000 feet is expected in 2025-26.