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Australian Triton takes to the skies

14th November 2023 - 09:40 GMT | by The Shephard News Team in London


The first RAAF Triton flew from Northrop Grumman’s Palmdale Aircraft Integration Center in California. (Photo: Northrop Grumman)

Australia has ordered four Northrop Grumman MQ-4C Triton UAS which can operate as an uncrewed maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) alongside the country’s in-service Boeing P-8A MPA fleet.

The first Northrop Grumman MQ-4C Triton for the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) took to the skies at midday on 9 November for a flight which lasted for almost six and a half hours.

The flight marked an important milestone and indicated the Triton programme was on target to deliver the first aircraft to the RAAF in 2024. The flight included engine, flight control and fuel system checks, and basic aircraft handling tests.

The flight joined several major events for the Triton programme including a declaration of initial operating capability by the US Navy in August, Australia’s order for a fourth aircraft in September and Australia signing an Interim Sustainment Support Contract with Northrop Grumman earlier this month.

Australia has the potential to purchase a further two or three aircraft. The systems have been considered key to the Australia’s government commitment to adequate patrol of its north-west approaches which include a large exclusive-economic zone and major shipping lanes.

Shephard Defence Insight noted the MQ-4C Triton was initially expected to achieve initial operating capability (IOC) in July 2024 but had forecast that IOC would not be achieved until mid-2026. The announcement of the first flight has provided a positive sign that the schedule could still be met.

The Shephard News Team


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