The Australian Government is taking steps to ensure Australia has one of the most advanced maritime patrol and response aircraft fleets in the world. The Government has approved the acquisition of a fourth MQ-4C Triton Remotely Piloted Aircraft System, and upgrades to the Air Force’s fleet of P-8A Poseidon Maritime Patrol Aircraft. The estimated combined value of these decisions is over A$1.5 billion. Throughout their life, the P-8A Poseidon and MQ-4C Triton fleets will contribute over $1.4 billion in acquisition and at least $6 billion in sustainment to Australian industry. These decisions reflect the Albanese Government’s determination to provide the Australian Defence Force with the capabilities it needs to defend Australia while also supporting local defence industry and jobs.
Minister for Defence Industry, Pat Conroy, said: “The purchase of an additional Triton will enhance operations from Australia’s northern bases, a priority under the Defence Strategic Review. The upgrades to the fleet of Poseidon aircraft strengthens our ability to secure and protect Australia’s maritime interests. The investment in both these aircraft will deliver more jobs, capability and security for Australians. Australian industry can expect more work and opportunities to develop a highly skilled workforce through sustaining these aircraft, helping to ensure our Defence personnel have the capabilities they need to keep Australians safe.”
The MQ-4C Triton will provide long-range, persistent surveillance across Australia’s maritime region. The first aircraft, including the relevant ground and support systems, is due to be delivered to Australia in 2024. When in service, the Triton aircraft will be based at RAAF Base Tindal, Northern Territory, and operated by the newly reformed Number 9 Squadron, located at RAAF Base Edinburgh, South Australia. The Northrop Grumman Corporation-manufactured MQ-4C Triton aircraft are being developed and acquired by the Australian Defence Force in cooperation with the US Navy. In addition, the signing of an Interim Sustainment Support Contract with Northrop Grumman Australia valued at $220 million will establish a strong maintenance workforce at RAAF Base Tindal and RAAF Base Edinburgh for the fleet of Triton aircraft.
Australia’s fleet of 14 Boeing P-8A Poseidon Maritime Patrol and Response aircraft will be upgraded, delivering enhancements to anti-submarine warfare, maritime strike and intelligence collection capabilities. Defence expects the first Poseidon aircraft to enter the upgrade program in 2026, with the final aircraft to be completed in 2030. The ADF will work with Boeing Defence Australia on options for domestic installation of the new Poseidon capabilities, increasing Australian industry opportunities. Overall, these decisions will create an additional 140 high-skilled jobs in South Australia and the Northern Territory. It is estimated around 40 of these jobs will be in the NT with the remainder in SA.