VICTORIA, Australia — A senior defense procurement official said Australia is looking to enter into an agreement with the US Navy in order to influence future development of the Northrop Grumman MQ-4C Triton maritime unmanned aerial system.
In 2014, the coalition government of Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced that it would acquire up to seven MQ-4C air vehicles for the Royal Australian Air Force, with the exact number of platforms and timing to be informed by a coming defense white paper and Defence Capability Plan, due to be released in the middle of this year.
Australia had been a cooperative partner in the design and development phase of the Triton between 2006 and 2009, but this agreement lapsed. A decision on the formal purchase of the MQ-4C is expected in 2016.
Group Capt. Guy Adams, director of unmanned aerial systems for the Defence Materiel Organisation (DMO), Australia’s military procurement agency, said that experience gained through ongoing cooperation with the US Navy on the Boeing P-8A Poseidon program has driven a similar requirement for Triton.
“The RAAF will buy the integrated functional level capability level four Triton, which will be the US Navy standard production version at that time and we are looking at entering into a co-operative development program with the US Navy, so Australia may have the ability to influence the future design and development of the program as it develops,” Adams said at the Australian International Airshow at the Avalon Airport.
Read More:Australia Seeks Input on US Navy Triton UAS.