CANBERRA, Australia, May 16 (UPI) -- Australia is eyeing possible acquisition of the U.S. Navy's MQ-4C Triton unmanned aircraft system.
A Letter of Request as to cost, capabilities and availability will be sent by Canberra to the United States and a Foreign Military Sales Technical Services Case opened with the U.S. Navy, defense officials said.
The MQ-4C Triton is a developmental maritime variant of Northrop Grumman's the Global Hawk surveillance UAS.
A recent White Paper on Australia's future defense needs said the government intends to replace its fleet of P-3 surveillance aircraft with Boeing P-8A Poseidons and unmanned systems capable of broad area maritime surveillance and fleet over watch.
The acquisition of high-altitude, long-endurance unmanned surveillance is being developed under the government's AIR 7000 Phase 1B project.
Australian officials said the Letter of Request and FMS file don't commit Australia to the MQ-4C and the Department of Defense will continue to investigate options for a mixed manned and unmanned aircraft fleet.