Northrop Grumman has initiated the build process for Australia’s first MQ-4C Triton, a game-changing unmanned maritime intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft. In a ceremony broadcast to a virtual audience, speakers from the Australian Government, Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), U.S. Congress, U.S. Navy and Northrop Grumman emphasized the significance of this event. The MQ-4C is a cooperative development program between the Royal Australian Air Force and the U.S. Navy, and provides a round-the-clock maritime wide-area ISR. Operating at altitudes exceeding 50,000 feet, Triton can cover more than one million square miles, or two and a half million square kilometers, of ocean and littorals in a single flight, bringing unprecedented awareness to commanders’ common operating pictures.
“As a strategic partner in the cooperative development program, Australia is a critical part of Triton’s development and production,” said Doug Shaffer, vice president, Triton programs, Northrop Grumman. “This game-changing system will boost Australia’s ISR capability and enable them to meet their surveillance needs to manage the world’s third largest exclusive economic zone.”
The Northrop Grumman MQ-4C Triton is an American high-altitude long endurance unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) under development for the United States Navy as a surveillance aircraft. Triton builds on elements of the RQ-4 Global Hawk; changes include reinforcements to the air frame and wing, de-icing systems, and lightning protection systems. These capabilities allow the aircraft to descend through cloud layers to gain a closer view of ships and other targets at sea when needed. Developed under the Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS) program, the system is intended to provide real-time intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions (ISR) over vast ocean and coastal regions, continuous maritime surveillance, conduct search and rescue missions, and to complement the Boeing P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft.
“The MQ-4C Triton will be a very important ISR capability for Australia,” said Air Commodore Terry van Haren, the RAAF’s air attaché to the Australian embassy. “It is ideally suited for Australian operating conditions, given its high altitude, long endurance, and impressive sensor suite. The Royal Australian Air Force looks forward to operating the MQ-4C alongside its other ISR and response aircraft such as the P8A Poseidon.”