RAAF Base Edinburgh to house new unmanned Triton fleet

By / 13th of March, 2014

THE Federal Government has announced its intention to purchase a fleet of Northrop Grumman MQ-4C Triton UAVs to be operated from the RAAF Edinburgh Airbase in South Australia.

The purchase won't take place until 2016 and is likely to cost between $1 billion to $3 billion depending on how many drones the government intend to purchase.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott said that there will be "important economic spin-offs for the great state of South Australia."

Some estimates state that it will create around 100 jobs, though some of these will be transferred from crews already working on the ageing fleet of Lockheed AP-3C Orion's currently based at Edinburgh.

It will bring an estimated $20 million of maintenance work in to South Australia each year.

In addition, the Wedgetail AWACS program, a partnership with British Aerospace, will result in $78 million of work for the state.

The Triton, designed for naval reconnaissance operations, is expected to be able to operate at 15,000 meters (50,000 feet) for up to 24 hours at a time. 

The MQ-4C Triton is a naval spin-off of Northrop Grumman's RQ-4 Global Hawk, redesigned to withstand the specific rigours of maritime operation. This includes electronics hardened against lightning and a stronger wing system for rapid descents required for detailed reconnaissance of smaller targets.