Australia is set to acquire the MQ-4C Triton from Northrop Grumman, subject to the completion of the US Navy’s development program.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott committed the government to following through with the acquisition of the unmanned aircraft system, which will be based at RAAF Base Edinburgh, near Adelaide, ahead of the weekend’s South Australian state election.
Neither the number of aircraft expected to be acquired under the AIR 7000 Phase 1B project nor their planned introduction into service date were specified. But these details will be considered by the government in 2016 based on the outcome of the forthcoming Defence White Paper process, Mr Abbott stated on Thursday.
“This acquisition will require approximately $140 million of new facilities and infrastructure, approximately $100 million of which will be invested in South Australia,” he said.
“This potentially involves the expansion and enhancement of existing facilities and infrastructure at RAAF Base Edinburgh. Support requirements for Triton should create approximately $20 million annually in further opportunities for South Australian companies.”
Last month, the government approved the acquisition of eight Boeing P-8A Poseidon aircraft to partially replace the RAAF’s AP-3C Orion maritime patrol platform under AIR 7000 Phase 2B. The first P-8A will be delivered in 2017 and all eight aircraft are expected to be fully operational by 2021.