Northrop Grumman and Airbus have agreed to collaborate on aircraft sustainment at RAAF Base Edinburgh.
It comes as Australia is currently scheduled to receive its first ground control station in 2022 and the first of six to seven Triton drones in 2023, which will operate out of the base in South Australia.
The Tritons are capable of monitoring 5.2 million square kilometres in a 24-hour mission and seamlessly flying a round trip for sustained surveillance and in support of allied freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea from the Northern Territory – increasing Australia’s interoperability with key allies, particularly the US.
The Triton is designed to operate in conjunction with Australia’s planned fleet of 12 manned P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol and anti-submarine aircraft.
The nation’s Tritons provide a quantum leap in the nation’s surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities, while the facilities and crew required to operate, train and maintain will be part of the initial $1.4 billion investment, which includes $364 million on new facilities at RAAF Bases Edinburgh and Tindal (in NT).
Northrop Grumman Australia’s chief executive, Chris Deeble, said, “With the imminent arrival of ground-based infrastructure for the MQ-4C Triton unmanned system, we are already working on expanding our presence at Edinburgh.
“This agreement underscores Northrop Grumman’s commitment to Australian investment across advanced capabilities, skills and jobs in support of the country’s strategic defence programs.”
Airbus Australia Pacific managing director Andrew Mathewson added, “Both Airbus and Northrop Grumman have a long and proven heritage in platform stewardship.
“Together, this expanded team has the capacity, capability and credentials needed to deliver reliable and effective sustainment solutions to the RAAF at Edinburgh.”
Northrop Grumman’s MQ-4C Triton unmanned aircraft system (UAS) provides real-time intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance over vast ocean and coastal regions.
Based on the proven Global Hawk UAS, Triton’s autonomous operations are supported by land-based command and control mission planners and sensor operators.
Triton will be equipped with a unique and robust mission sensor suite that provides 360-degree coverage on all sensors, providing unprecedented maritime domain awareness for the US Navy