Australia Boosts Maritime Surveillance With Drones

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Australia will spend A$1.5 billion ($966 million) to boost maritime surveillance of its northern approaches, buying more long-range drone aircraft and upgrading Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft.

The fleet of 14 Boeing P-8A Poseidon Maritime Patrol aircraft will have anti-submarine warfare, maritime strike, and intelligence collection capabilities upgraded, Minister for Defence Industry, Pat Conroy said.

​A fourth Northrop Grumman manufactured MQ-4C Triton drone aircraft, developed with the United States Navy, will be based in Australia’s Northern Territory, closest to Asia, and operated by a newly formed squadron in South Australia state.

The Triton will provide long-range surveillance of Australia’s maritime region, the statement said.

“The purchase of an additional Triton will enhance operations from Australia’s northern bases, a priority under the Defence Strategic Review,” said Conroy.

Meanwhile, a review in April said that the United States was no longer the “unipolar leader of the Indo-Pacific”, that intense competition between the US and China was defining the region, and that the major power competition had “potential for conflict.”

It recommended the country’s northern bases become a focal point for deterring adversaries and protecting trade routes and communications.

Report says Australian Poseidon aircraft have conducted patrols in the South China Sea, and have also operated out of a Japanese airbase to enforce United Nations Security Council sanctions on North Korea.

Conroy said the Poseidon aircraft upgrades will strengthen the protection of Australian “maritime interests.”




REUTERS/Christopher Ojilere

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