Australia welcomes first MQ-4C Triton

The first MQ-4C Triton remotely piloted aircraft (AUS 1) has arrived in Australia following the delivery and installation of its ground support systems. 

Australian Navy

As a remotely piloted aircraft system, the MQ-4C Triton, acquired for the Air Force, completed the first leg of its ‘ferrying flight’ on February 16, 2024.

Flown by project industry partner Northrop Grumman, AUS 1 made the initial journey from Palmdale, California, to Patuxent River, Maryland, in the U.S.

There it was handed over to the US Navy for final testing, fit-out and certification prior to embarking on its final journey to Australia.

Head of Air Force Capability, Air Vice-Marshal Wendy Blyth, said Australia is acquiring four MQ-4C Triton aircraft and associated ground support systems through a cooperative program with the US Navy, in collaboration with the manufacturer of the Triton, Northrop Grumman, which includes training.

“RAAF MQ-4C Triton aircrew have undertaken extensive training by the USN at Naval Air Station, Jacksonville, Florida,” Air Vice-Marshal Blyth said.

“These personnel received the same training as their USN counterparts and gained valuable experience to ensure that Air Force is able to deploy the MQ-4C Triton effectively.”

“In January this year, the ‘Trailerised’ Forward Operating Base, which is the initial ground ‘Mission Control Station’ for the MQ-4C Triton, was successfully delivered to RAAF Base Tindal, Northern Territory – representing another significant milestone for the project,” Group Captain Andrew Leahy said.

The unit will provide long-range, persistent surveillance across Australia’s maritime approaches and its broader areas of interest. 

This capability will complement the ADF’s crewed P-8A Poseidon fleet as a ‘family of systems’ to undertake enhanced intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance tasks to support Defence operations. 

When in service, the MQ-4C Triton aircraft will be based at RAAF Base Tindal, Northern Territory, and operated by the Air Force’s reformed 9 Squadron, located at RAAF Base Edinburgh, South Australia.