Defence and Airbus will collaborate to build a workforce of “niche trades” to service a new generation of surveillance aircraft based at RAAF Base Edinburgh.
The military facility in SA is currently home to Australia’s P-8A Poseidons but will soon welcome MQ-4C Tritons and MC-55A Peregrines.
Defence said it hoped the initiative would bring together representatives from a range of primes and increase efficiency.
Air Commodore Jason Agius said, “The Edinburgh ISR precinct is home to some of the most advanced airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platforms in the world.
“This deed signed with Airbus Australia Pacific today will enable more efficient support for our Air Force ISR fleets in South Australia and encourage further integration between our industry partners.
“This initiative provides a framework to increase the efficiency of a workforce to support multiple small fleets of aircraft and provides a basis for the extension of support to additional platforms if required.”
In 2019, Defence announced it would acquire four modified Gulfstream G550 business jets, to be designated MC-55A Peregrine, for $2.46 billion.
Ministers said they would enable the ADF to strengthen electronic warfare support to naval, air and land forces for operations in complex electromagnetic environments.
The aircraft, set to arrive next year, has led to RAAF Base Edinburgh investing $220 million in major infrastructure upgrades to accommodate them.
Australia is also set to acquire up to seven MQ-4C Tritons. The aircraft is on track for production completion in 2023 ahead of final delivery to Australia in mid-2024.
The Tritons are tipped to deliver over 24-hour endurance, collecting essential ISR data over land and sea to enable rapid, informed decision-making.
Its HALE (high-altitude, long-endurance) systems have also been designed to support future connectivity with the joint force, leveraging advanced autonomy and artificial intelligence/machine learning.
Air Marshal Robert Chipman, Chief of the RAAF, earlier reflected on the capability potential of the platform, expected to operate alongside Australia’s Boeing-built P-8A Poseidons.
“Triton will provide the Royal Australian Air Force with an unprecedented capability to monitor and protect our maritime approaches,” he said.
“Triton will work alongside the P-8A Poseidon and this unmanned aircraft system will allow us to cover significant areas, at longer ranges and has the ability to stay airborne longer than a traditional aircraft.” The first was unveiled in September.
The ‘Edinburgh Aerospace Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) Enterprise Common Services Deed’ agreed by Airbus and Defence, builds on the Edinburgh Aerospace ISR Enterprise established in 2021.