Northrop Grumman Corp, one of the world’s largest weapons manufacturers and military technology providers, has unveiled Wednesday Australia’s first MQ-4C Triton during a ceremony held at its high-altitude, long-endurance (HALE) aircraft production site in California.

The event showcased the continued progress of the autonomous aircraft program for both the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) and the US Navy (USN).

“Today marks a significant milestone for Australia and the MQ-4C Triton program,” said Tom Jones, corporate vice president and president of Northrop Grumman Aeronautics Systems. “As we get ready for final system integration and flight test, we are one step closer to delivering this extraordinary maritime awareness capability to Australia.”

As China asserts its presence in the Indo-Pacific region, Australia’s defense ministry has increased its military capabilities in recent years, including the Triton program. The country has since worked closely to ensure that the unmanned aerial system (UAS) has met its specific requirements. In addition, in partnership with the US defense ministry, both countries can share data collected by their respective Tritons to warrant security in the “world’s most strategically important regions.”

Air Marshall Robert Chipman, chief of RAAF, said that it envisioned Triton as an “unprecedented capability to monitor and protect our maritime approaches,” and together with USN’s Boeing P-8 Poseidon, will bolster the maritime surveillance coverage of “significant areas, at longer ranges and has the ability to stay airborne longer than a traditional aircraft.”