?These aircraft will patrol Australia?s vast ocean approaches, and work closely with other existing and future Australian Defense Force assets to secure our ocean resources, including energy resources off northern Australia, and help to protect our borders,? Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Defense Minister David Johnston tells Reuters.
The big-ticket item was deemed wise as a response to Australia?s long-standing ocean defense concerns, including a growing refugee boat crisis. The purchase represents a significant investment in a robotic future for the next generation of patrol aircraft.
The acquisition stands to benefit Australia?s economy as well as its defense interests. The drones will be based at RAAF Base Edinburgh in South Australia, Abbott says, and will bring in $89.72 (A$100) million in investments to the state, which has struggled with the loss of its manufacturing sector.
Northrop Grumman’s Triton MQ-4C completed its first flight on May 22, 2013.
Northrop Diversifies With Foreign Sales
The Triton sale helps Northrup as well as Australia.
Northrop has been trying in recent years to diversify outside of the U.S. due to decreasing military budgets and a growing international demand for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). The company has been exploring potential markets in Asian nations as well as those in the Southern Hemisphere.
The Triton, as its name implies, is a maritime version of the Global Hawk, America?s largest unmanned aircraft, which recently replaced the long-used and controversial U-2 spy plane from Lockheed, first developed in the 1950s.
?Triton was designed for broad area maritime surveillance ? following ships from high altitude,? according RP Defense. The MQ-4C Triton has a maximum speed of 357 miles per hour, a service ceiling of 60,000 feet and an endurance of 30 hours.
The international market for UAVs is expected to expand dramatically in the future, zooming upward from current expenditures and to be on the order of nearly $90 billion cumulatively over the decade running from April 2012 to spring of the year 2022, according to market analysts Teal Group.
Teal?s annual ?World Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Systems, Market Profile and Forecast 2012,? lists five new, global drone producers: Canada’s Aeryon and CAE, Inc.; South Africa’s Denel; U.S.-based Griffon Aerospace; and France’s Dassault Aviation.
Australia wants the Triton drones to complement its recent purchase of eight of Boeing?s P-8A Poseidon long-range spy planes for $3.6 billion (A$4 billion).