Australia strengthens defense ties with U.S. with purchase of 6 Triton drones worth around $6 billion

The remotely piloted aircraft, made by U.S.-based Northrop Grumman Corp, will beef up the country’s long range operations, marine patrols and intelligence gathering.

On Tuesday, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull stated, Australia will purchase 6 U.S. Triton remotely piloted aircraft to beef up its maritime patrols, with the first drone costing $1 billion (A$1.4 billion). The amount includes new facilities at two air force bases in Australia, ground control systems, support and training.

The Triton drones, made by Northrop Grumman Corp, will be used alongside P-8A Poseidon aircrafts for long range operations and intelligence gathering. They will also be used for marine strike capability and anti-submarine warfare, said the Australian government.

“This investment will protect our borders and make our region more secure,” said Turnbull and Australia’s defense ministers in a joint statement.

As per a source familiar with the transaction at hand, the total cost of the six drones, which includes facilities and support infrastructure, will be A$6.9 billion.

The office of Christopher Pyne, Australia’s Defence Industry Minister declined to comment on the total cost of the aircraft.

The Triton can fly for up to 24 hours and is equipped with sensors that can view the surrounding area over 2,000 nautical miles (3,700 kms).

Australia will be working with the U.S. navy to develop, produce and sustain the MQ-4C Triton, said the Australian government in a statement.

It went on to add, “Australia’s alliance with the U.S. is our most important defense relationship, underpinned by strong cooperation in defense industry and capability development”.

The first of the Triton aircraft is scheduled to enter into service in mid-2023. By late 2025, all six drones would be in operational and be based out of South Australia.

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