Northrop Grumman and the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) are working together to study the operation of unmanned air vehicles in Australian airspace. The focus of the study will be on aircraft the size of “small commercial jets”, says Northrop.

"As a producer of large-scale unmanned aircraft systems, our goal is not only to provide the aircraft, but also to understand fully the Australian government's needs to certify them for operation," says Ian Irving, chief executive for Northrop Grumman Australia. "We're extremely excited to work with RMIT University because of their leadership in the development of innovative approaches to civil and military airspace regulatory reform and air vehicle certification."

In March, Canberra announced its intention to acquire the MQ-4C Triton unmanned surveillance system, becoming the first foreign customer for the maritime variant of the Global Hawk. The Triton has a wingspan of 39.9m (131ft), and a fuselage length of 14.5m.