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New and Stunning MQ-4C Triton Rolls Off the Assembly Lines, Not Meant for America

Ever since 2013, the American arsenal of military drones has been waiting to include something we know as the MQ-4C Triton. Made by Northrop Grumman, the drone is still in some form of development stages, including for variants that are not meant for America’s fighting needs.
MQ-4C Triton for the RAAF 8 photos
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Last we heard of the Triton was back in February, when a version of it rocking something called Integrated Functional Capability (read multi-mission sensor capability) got delivered to the Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Maryland.

Today’s Triton news concerns a version of the drone meant for the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). Australia is a cooperative partner in the Triton program, and it’ll get its own machine sometime in 2024.

This week, Northrop Grumman showed the Aussie-bound drone for the first time, using a pic we’re pretty certain deserves an award of some kind. The drone is nearing the final system integration and flight test, which should take place sometime next year.

It’s unclear what exactly sets the Australian Triton apart from its U.S. Navy counterpart. In standard guise, the drone can fly at altitudes of up to 10 miles (16 km), and at speeds of up to 357 mph (575 kph) thanks to the Rolls-Royce turbofan engine that powers it.

The drone is not fully autonomous, but needs to be controlled from a ground station. Used mainly for intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and targeting (ISR&T) missions, it can stay in the air for up to 24 hours.

The Australians plan to use the drone either on its own, or working together with the P-8A Poseidon, also an American-made bird used for maritime patrol and reconnaissance.

In all, the Triton program aims to deliver close to 70 operational drones to serve the needs of both nations.

Editor's note: Gallery shows U.S-spec Triton.

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