The US Navy has reinstated funding for Northrop Grumman MQ-4C Triton production, with the awarding of a US$98.9m (A$129.5m) contract for one low-rate production lot five Triton.
US Navy and Australia’s planned Triton production had previously been at risk after the Draft 2021 President’s Budget (PB21) had reallocated funding which would have resulted in a two-year production pause on the program after just 14 of a planned 68 air vehicles for the US Navy had been ordered.
At the time, ADBR reported that some US$400m from the planned FY2021 and FY2022 production funding for Lot 6 and Lot 7 Tritons would be diverted elsewhere, with about half of it being assigned to bolster development of the planned IFC4 configuration of the aircraft which will include the Multi-INT package.
This latest contract award will prevent that production pause, which industry sources have attributed in part to Australia’s commitment to the program following its June 2020 order for a third of a planned six or seven air vehicles. Production of the RAAF’s first Triton commenced in October 2020, and the first aircraft is due to be delivered to Australia in 2024/25.