Northrop Grumman has unveiled Australia’s first MQ-4C Triton autonomous aircraft to monitor and protect the country’s maritime territories.

The unveiling ceremony was conducted at the company’s aircraft production site in California, with defense officials from the US and Australia in attendance.

Canberra has been in cooperation with Washington on the Triton program, shaping the requirements of the autonomous system.

Now that Australia has its own MQ-4C Triton drone, the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) will have improved capabilities in securing vast swaths of territory at longer ranges.

“Triton will work alongside the P-8A Poseidon and this unmanned aircraft system will allow us to cover significant areas … and has the ability to stay airborne longer than a traditional aircraft,” RAAF chief Robert Chipman said.

Since the US and Australia are partners in the program, they will share data collected by their respective MQ-4Cs to boost interoperability and ensure regional security.

‘Extraordinary Maritime Awareness’

Based on the proven Global Hawk unmanned aircraft system, Northrop’s MQ-4C Triton provides real-time intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance over ocean and coastal regions.

Its unique mission sensor suite provides 360-degree coverage for “unprecedented maritime domain awareness.”

Australia’s first Triton began development in 2020 and met a production milestone in 2021 when its fuselage and wing were connected.

Northrop is expected to complete production of the Australian MQ-4Cs in 2023, with initial deliveries slated for 2024.

“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,” Northrop Grumman corporate vice president Tom Jones remarked.

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