Northrop Grumman Systems Corp., based in San Diego, California, has been awarded a $543m contract modification to expand the production and delivery of MQ-4C Triton Unmanned Aircraft Systems. 

Under this modification, Northrop Grumman will manufacture three MQ-4C Triton unmanned aircraft for the US Navy, one for the government of Australia, and a designated main operating base for the Navy.

The agreement also encompasses associated support services, technical expertise, and administrative data related to these unmanned aircraft.

The US Navy awarded a $11.5bn contract to Northrop Grumman to manufacture 65 advanced MQ4C-Triton UAVs with a multi-sensor upgrade. With 20% of the North American military UAV market, Northrop Grumman is projected to be the second largest shareholder in the region, according to GlobalData’s “The Global Military UAV Market 2022-2032” report.

In September 2023, Northrop Grumman Corporation’s MQ-4C Triton unmanned aircraft attained initial operating capability with the US Navy.

This project will be conducted across various locations, with most of the work being performed in San Diego, California, which accounts for 25.7% of the total effort. Other key areas include Palmdale, California; Red Oak, Texas; and Linthicum, Maryland.

This contract modification is anticipated to reach completion in January 2028, highlighting the extensive timeline and scale of this endeavour. The funding for this contract includes $411.4m from fiscal year 2023 aircraft procurement (Navy) funds, $971.6 thousand from fiscal year 2022 aircraft procurement (Navy) funds, and an additional $40m in co-operative funds from the Royal Australian Air Force.

The RAAF and the US Navy are set to share data and maintain an autonomous intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) and targeting capability, thanks to the similarities in the capabilities of their Triton fleets. This development will enhance Australia’s maritime domain awareness in the Pacific region. 

The contract is managed by the Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, Maryland. The MQ-4C Triton is known for its long-endurance high-altitude capabilities, making it an asset for maritime surveillance, intelligence, reconnaissance, and other missions.