The RAAF’s recently reformed No. 9 Squadron is preparing to fly MQ-4C Triton drones when they arrive next year.
Australia will receive up to seven of the Northrop Grumman surveillance aircraft, which can uniquely travel for up to 24 hours at a time.
No. 9 Squadron was originally formed in 1939 as a fleet cooperation unit working with seaplanes and served during World War II in the Mediterranean Sea, Indian and Pacific Oceans, receiving 12 battle honours before being disbanded in 1944.
It was reformed in 1962 with personnel deployed as helicopter squadron in active service during the Vietnam War, before being disbanded again in 1989.
Its third incarnation will see the squadron fly the Triton from RAAF Base Edinburgh and be known as No. 92 Wing Surveillance and Response Group.
Chief of Air Force Air Marshal Rob Chipman said the re-establishment of No. 9 Squadron on 11 June this year marked the beginning of a new era in the squadron’s distinguished history.
“9 Squadron has played an incredibly important role in the Royal Australian Air Force, serving during critical times for Australia’s security,” AIRMSHL Chipman said.
“I’m proud to see the squadron return to service in 2023.”
The Triton is known as a high-altitude, long-endurance platform, or HALE, because of its ability to fly at high altitudes and for up to one day at a time, collecting ISR (intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance) data over land and sea.
Officer Commanding No. 92 Wing Group Captain Paul Carpenter said that as RAAF enters its second century, the MQ-4C Triton represented a fundamental change in utilising airpower.
“Uncrewed aerial systems offer enormous potential to capitalise on the opportunities provided by modern payloads and increased endurance,” GPCAPT Carpenter said.
“This will deliver unprecedented persistence and awareness over the maritime domain in support of the Integrated Force.”
The first of Australia’s future fleet of Tritons was unveiled in September last year. Australia can order up to seven, but a final decision on numbers has yet to be announced after the platform surprisingly wasn’t mentioned in Labor’s recent DSR.