Northrop Grumman Australia has successfully delivered the Triton Network Integration Test Environment (NITE) to the Commonwealth of Australia ahead of schedule, marking another milestone in the Australian MQ-4C Triton program. Developed by Northrop Grumman and based at Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Base Edinburgh, NITE will support Chief Information Officer Group (CIOG) to configure and test the array of Triton network interfaces and systems prior to the delivery of the first aircraft to Australia in 2023. Critically, NITE enables CIOG to design and test Triton’s network architecture on Defence wide area networks.
Despite challenges presented by COVID-19 restrictions, Northrop Grumman’s engineering teams in the United States and Australia worked closely together to achieve the delivery milestone, leveraging experience learned through supporting the U.S. Navy’s Triton roll-out.Beyond the successful delivery of the NITE capability, Northrop Grumman is working closely with the U.S. Navy to progress Triton toward initial operating capability and global deployments. The U.S. Navy and Northrop Grumman achieved the first flight of the multi-intelligence variant on July 30.
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. Together with its associated ground control station, it is an unmanned aircraft system (UAS). Developed under the Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS) program, the system is intended to provide real-time intelligence, surveillance and to complement the Boeing P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol 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.
Australia has considered the MQ-4, both as a military platform and as customs enforcement platform; senior customs officials have doubted the effectiveness of the planned seven MQ-4C to detect small boats in the country’s northern waters, especially through cloud cover. The Australian Government confirmed in its 2016 Defence White Paper that the Royal Australian Air Force was to acquire seven MQ-4C Triton aircraft as part of its “Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance capability stream”. On 26 June 2018, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced the purchase of the first of six MQ-4C Tritons with consideration being given to purchase a seventh.