Northrop Grumman Corporation unveiled Australia’s first MQ-4C Triton autonomous aircraft during a ceremony at its high-altitude, long-endurance (HALE) aircraft production site in California. The event, attended by Australian, U.S. government and defense officials, highlights the continued progress of the MQ-4C Triton program for both the Royal Australian Air Force and U.S. Navy. Australia is a cooperative program partner in the Triton program and was critical in helping shape the requirements for the system. As partners, U.S. and Australian defense forces will be able to share data collected by their respective Tritons, a critical ability in one of the world’s most strategically important regions.
“Today marks a significant milestone for Australia and the MQ-4C Triton program. As we get ready for final system integration and flight test, we are one step closer to delivering this extraordinary maritime awareness capability to Australia,” said Tom Jones, corporate vice president and president, Northrop Grumman Aeronautics Systems.
“Triton will provide the Royal Australian Air Force with an unprecedented capability to monitor and protect our maritime approaches. Triton will work alongside the P-8A Poseidon and this unmanned aircraft system will allow us to cover significant areas, at longer ranges and has the ability to stay airborne longer than a traditional aircraft,” said Air Marshal Robert Chipman, Chief of the Royal Australian Air Force.
Northrop Grumman initiated the build of the first Australian Triton in October 2020 at its production facility in Moss Point, Miss., and met another major production milestone in December 2021 when the fuselage and one-piece wing were mated in Palmdale, Calif. The aircraft is scheduled for production completion in 2023 and delivery to Australia in 2024. Northrop Grumman’s family of autonomous HALE systems perform critical wide-area intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and targeting (ISR&T) missions. Today, autonomous HALE systems operate across the globe, with greater than 24-hour endurance, collecting essential ISR&T data over land and sea to enable rapid, informed decision-making. In the future, these systems will connect the joint force, implementing advanced autonomy and artificial intelligence and machine learning.
Northrop Grumman Corporation is an American multinational aerospace and defense technology company. With 90,000 employees and an annual revenue in excess of $30 billion, it is one of the world’s largest weapons manufacturers and military technology providers. The firm ranks No. 96 on the 2020 Fortune 500 list of America’s largest corporations. Northrop Grumman and its industry partners have won the Collier Trophy eight times, most recently for developing the X-47B, the first unmanned, autonomous air system to operate from an aircraft carrier. Northrop Grumman currently leads the development of the B-21 Raider, a long-range, stealth strategic bomber that can drop conventional and nuclear weapons; it will replace Northrop’s own B-2 Spirit, the world’s only known stealth bomber.