Minister for Defence, Senator the Hon Linda Reynolds CSC said the Triton acquisition is an important part of protecting Australia’s borders and making the region more secure.
“Once in service, this capability will significantly enhance our ability to persistently patrol Australia’s maritime approaches from the North, in the South West Pacific and down to Antarctica. The fleet is being developed and purchased through a Cooperative Program with the US Navy. This Program strengthens our ability to develop advanced maritime surveillance capability and ensure our capabilities remain complementary with our security partners, while sharing in the benefits of their technical expertise and project costs.”
The Australian MoD added that the US Navy’s Triton aircraft have commenced operations in the Pacific region and are already demonstrating their operational value. The Triton and P-8A Poseidon capabilities will operate in a complementary way to deliver a comprehensive Maritime Patrol and Response capability.
Australia’s 12th Poseidon aircraft was delivered in December 2019. The Poseidon aircraft have since been deployed on several overseas operations and have performed to a very high standard. Triton and Poseidon will also provide support to national security response activities, both domestically and abroad.
About MQ-4C Triton Maritime Surveillance HALE UAV
According to its launch customer, the US Navy, the MQ-4C Triton is an autonomously operated system that provides a persistent maritime ISR capability using multiple maritime sensors.
The MQ-4C Triton air vehicle is based upon the United States Air Force (USAF) RQ-4B Global Hawk, while its sensors are based upon components of (or entire systems) already fielded in the DoD inventory.
Along with the P-8A manned aircraft, the MQ-4C Triton is integral to the U.S. Navy’s Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Force (MPRF) Family of Systems. The MPRF is the operational agent for the MQ-4C Triton and Commander, Patrol and Reconnaissance Group (CPRG) is the fleet sponsor for the manned/unmanned integration concept.
Australia’s 2016 Defence White Paper identified the requirement for seven high altitude, long endurance Triton unmanned aircraft. Northrop Grumman will deliver the Triton through a cooperative program with the United States Navy who has itself expressed a need for 70 aircraft. The German Defence Ministry confirmed in March 2017 that it had decided to buy the MQ-4C to replace the EuroHawk program, with deliveries occurring after 2025. The plan has now been canceled.
MQ-4C Triton specifications:
- Length: 47 ft 7 in (14.5 m)
- Wingspan: 130 ft 11 in (39.9 m)
- Height: 15 ft 5 in (4.6 m)
- Empty weight: 14,945 lb (6,781 kg)
- Gross weight: 32,250 lb (14,630 kg)
- Maximum speed: 357 mph (575 km/h, 320 kn)
- Range: 9,400 mi (15,200 km, 8,200 nmi)
- Endurance: 30 hours
- Service ceiling: 56,000 ft (17,000 m)