$1.5bn for RAAF surveillance upgrades, with some work to be done locally


The federal government will spend $1.5 billion to buy a fourth MQ-4C Triton Remotely Piloted Aircraft System, and upgrade to the Royal Australian Air Force’s fleet of P-8A Poseidon Maritime Patrol Aircraft.

While Triton will be imported, Australian industry has got a look in to the spending with the government negotiating with Boeing Defence Australia on ‘options for domestic installation of the new Poseidon capabilities, increasing Australian industry opportunities’.

According to a statement, the signing of an Interim Sustainment Support Contract with Northrop Grumman Australia valued at $220 million will establish a strong maintenance workforce at RAAF Base Tindal and RAAF Base Edinburgh for the fleet of Triton aircraft.

“Overall, these decisions will create an additional 140 high-skilled jobs in South Australia and the Northern Territory.

“It is estimated around 40 of these jobs will be in the NT with the remainder in SA.

“Throughout their life, the P-8A Poseidon and MQ-4C Triton fleets will contribute over $1.4 billion in acquisition and at least $6 billion in sustainment to Australian industry.”

The MQ-4C Triton will provide long-range, persistent surveillance across Australia’s maritime region.

Australia’s fleet of 14 Boeing P-8A Poseidon Maritime Patrol and Response aircraft will be upgraded, delivering enhancements to anti-submarine warfare, maritime strike and intelligence collection capabilities.

Defence expects the first Poseidon aircraft to enter the upgrade program in 2026, with the final aircraft to be completed in 2030.

These decisions reflect the Albanese Government’s determination to provide the Australian Defence Force with the capabilities it needs to defend Australia while also supporting local defence industry and jobs.

Minister for Defence Industry Pat Conroy said: “The investment in both these aircraft will deliver more jobs, capability and security for Australians.

“Australian industry can expect more work and opportunities to develop a highly skilled workforce through sustaining these aircraft, helping to ensure our Defence personnel have the capabilities they need to keep Australians safe.”

Further reading:
Australia’s $1.7bn missile investment, but no local manufacture yet

Picture: Defence/LSIS Leo Baumgartner/Corporal Matthew Lazzari operates a workstation on a Royal Australian Air Force P-8A Poseidon

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