Northrop Grumman has rolled out the first MQ-4C Triton remotely piloted aircraft system (RPAS) for the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF).

The unveiling of the RPAS was marked by a ceremony held at the company’s high-altitude, long-endurance (HALE) aircraft production facility in California, US.

It was attended by various government and defence officials from the US and Australia.

The MQ-4C Triton is being developed under Triton Cooperative Programme, which is a collaborative effort between the US Navy, Australian Department of Defence (DoD) and Northrop Grumman.

The programme will allow both nations’ defence forces to exchange the data gathered by respective Tritons.

RAAF Aerospace Systems Division head air vice-marshal Leon Phillips said: “Defence will invest more than $607.14m (A$900m) in the Australian industry, including sustainment, ICT and facilities.”

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Work on the first of seven Australian Tritons commenced in October 2020 at Northrop Grumman’s Moss Point facility in Mississippi, US.

In December 2021, the company achieved a major production milestone by mounting the fuselage and one-piece wing onto the aircraft.

Production of the first aircraft is slated to complete by 2023, with delivery to Australia expected in 2024.

Northrop Grumman Aeronautics Systems president and corporate vice-president Tom Jones said: “As we get ready for final system integration and flight test, we are one step closer to delivering this extraordinary maritime awareness capability to Australia.”

Following its delivery, the MQ-4C RPAS will be based at RAAF Base Tindal, while its major operations will be handled by facilities at RAAF Base Edinburgh.

RAAF chief air marshal Robert Chipman said: “Triton will work alongside P-8A Poseidon and this uncrewed aircraft system will allow us to cover significant areas, at longer ranges and has the ability to stay airborne longer than a traditional aircraft.”