One of Northrop Grumman Corp.‘s RQ-4 Global Hawk aircraft landed near Melbourne Saturday for display at the Australian International Air Show and marketing to potential customers in the Pacific region.

“This is the first time that a Global Hawk has flown into an international air show,” said Ian Irving, chief executive for Northrop Grumman Australia. “This really speaks to the maturity and reliability of the system. As the Royal Australian Air Force seeks to procure the MQ-4C Triton UAS, a variant based on Global Hawk, they will be able to use the system’s capabilities to transform the way they conduct maritime surveillance missions.”

Last year, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced his military’s intent to purchase the Triton for high-altitude, long-endurance surveillance missions to augment the country’s current P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft.

Northrop Grumman’s division in Rancho Bernardo manages the Triton program and is currently working with the U.S. Navy to develop the system for operational use by 2017.

Mary Petryszyn, vice president, International at Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems, said Global Hawk’s arrival in Australia is a milestone for the company.

“Korea, Australia and Japan have all made major decisions leading to the expected acquisition of either Global Hawk or Triton in the last year,” said Petryszyn. “This is testament to the value and performance of these systems, and to the tremendous amount of actionable information they deliver to military commanders and government agencies.”

In 2001, a Global Hawk flew non-stop from Edwards Air Force Base in California to Royal Australian Air Base Edinburgh in Adelaide, Australia, becoming the first unmanned aircraft to cross the Pacific Ocean. The aircraft that flew in Saturday came from Guam.

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.