The Australian government has announced that the Australian Defence Force (ADF) will acquire its fourth MQ-4C Triton remotely-piloted aircraft system, as well as upgrading its fleet of P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft.
The MQ-4C Triton, including the relevant ground and support systems, is due to be delivered to Australia in 2024.
A report from the Australian Defence Magazine (ADM) said that the approval came just days after the aircraft reached Initial Operational Capability (IOC) with the United States Navy (USN) and commenced a renewed deployment to Andersen Air Force Base in Guam.
“The upgrades to the fleet of Poseidon aircraft strengthens our ability to secure and protect Australia’s maritime interests,” Australian Defence industry minister Pat Conroy said in a statement, adding that the purchase of the additional Triton will enhance operations from Australia’s northern bases.
The Triton will be stationed at the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Base Tindal, Northern Territory, and operated by Air Force’s newly-reformed No. 9 Squadron, located at RAAF Base Edinburgh in South Australia.
The government has also announced that its fleet of 14 P-8A Poseidons will be upgraded, delivering enhancements to anti-submarine warfare, maritime strike and intelligence collection capabilities.
“The upgrades to the fleet of Poseidon aircraft strengthens our ability to secure and protect Australia’s maritime interests,” Conroy said.
The first Poseidons are expected to enter the upgrade program in 2026, which the final aircraft should complete in 2030. The estimated combined cost of the upgrades and acquisition is more than AU 1.5 billion ($967 million).