Australia has bought another Northrop Grumman MQ-4C Triton Remotely Piloted Aircraft System, bringing Australia's Triton fleet to three.
The Government is buying six of the new drones in a deal worth $5 billion and Tindal RAAF Based has been named as a forward operating base for the fleet.
Millions more dollars will be spent at Tindal to host the US-made drones.
Defence Minister Linda Reynolds yesterday said the Triton acquisition was an important part of protecting Australia's borders and making the region more secure.
"Once in service, this capability will significantly enhance our ability to persistently patrol Australia's maritime approaches from the North, in the South West Pacific and down to Antarctica," Minister Reynolds said.
"The fleet is being developed and purchased through a Cooperative Program with the US Navy. This Program strengthens our ability to develop advanced maritime surveillance capability and ensure our capabilities remain complementary with our security partners, while sharing in the benefits of their technical expertise and project costs.
"Our membership of the Cooperative Program gives us the confidence to acquire our third Triton. We will continue to work closely with the United States to assure our future capability.
"Together we are developing this cutting edge military technology to the highest standards. This work will help ensure Australia's maritime region is secure well into the future."
The US Navy's Triton aircraft have commenced operations in our region and are already demonstrating their operational value.
The project provides significant opportunities for Australian defence industry including the construction of facilities in South Australia and the Northern Territory, software integration, engineering, logistics and manufacturing of components.
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The Triton and P-8A Poseidon capabilities will operate in a complementary way to deliver a comprehensive Maritime Patrol and Response capability.
Triton and Poseidon will also provide support to national security response activities, both domestically and abroad.
The unarmed Triton's are able to fly at high altitude and remain airborne in excess of 24 hours.
"The MQ-4C Triton Remotely Piloted Air System will be operated from RAAF Base Edinburgh (Adelaide), with a forward operating base for launch and recovery of the aircraft at RAAF Base Tindal," Katherine Times has been told.
Maintenance hangars, aircraft aprons, warehousing, high power engine run up area, training support facilities and infrastructure connections are being built at Tindal.
The facilities and crew required to operate, train and maintain will be part of the initial $1.4 billion investment, which includes $364 million on new facilities at RAAF Bases Edinburgh and Tindal.
The Tritons are large, almost 15 metres in length with a wingspan of 40 metres with a maximum speed of almost 600kmh and can stay aloft for more than a day.
The unmanned and unarmed Triton is a high altitude, long endurance aircraft that will be used for maritime patrol and other surveillance roles.
The Federal Government also said last year the drones would "significantly enhance our anti-submarine warfare and maritime strike capability, as well as our search and rescue capability."
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