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Australia to acquire fourth MQ-4C Triton and Poseidon upgrades

written by Robert Dougherty | September 19, 2023

A replica of RAAF’s Triton as shown at Avalon 2023. (Defence, CPL David Cotton)

The Australian government has announced plans to purchase an additional MQ-4C Triton remotely piloted aircraft and upgrades for P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft to bolster maritime response.

The approved acquisition includes a fourth Triton and anti-submarine warfare, maritime strike and intelligence collection enhancements for Australia’s fleet of 14 Boeing P-8A Poseidon aircraft with an estimated combined value of over $1.5 billion.

The plans also include a signed interim sustainment support contract with Northrop Grumman Australia, valued at $220 million, to establish a strong maintenance workforce at RAAF Base Tindal and RAAF Base Edinburgh for the fleet of Triton aircraft.

Minister for Defence Industry Pat Conroy said these decisions reflect the government’s determination to provide the Australian Defence Force with defence capabilities, while also supporting local defence industry and jobs.

“The purchase of an additional Triton will enhance operations from Australia’s northern bases, a priority under the Defence Strategic Review,” he said.


“The upgrades to the fleet of Poseidon aircraft strengthens our ability to secure and protect Australia’s maritime interests.

“The investment in both these aircraft will deliver more jobs, capability, and security for Australians.

“Australian industry can expect more work and opportunities to develop a highly skilled workforce through sustaining these aircraft, helping to ensure our Defence personnel have the capabilities they need to keep Australians safe.”

The first MQ-4C Triton and relevant ground and support systems are scheduled for delivery to Australia in 2024. The Triton aircraft will provide long-range, persistent surveillance across Australia’s maritime region and will be based at RAAF Base Tindal and operated by No. 9 Squadron at RAAF Base Edinburgh.

The first Poseidon aircraft is expected to enter the upgrade program in 2026, with the final aircraft to be completed in 2030. The ADF is expected to work with Boeing Defence Australia on options for domestic installation of new Poseidon capabilities.

Both decisions are expected to create an additional 140 high-skilled jobs in South Australia and the Northern Territory (40), as well as $1.4 billion in acquisition and at least $6 billion in sustainment to Australian industry.

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