Australia will likely spend $1.5 billion to enhance maritime surveillance of northern approaches, getting additional long-range and advanced drone aircraft and upgrading its Poseidon (unique maritime patrol aircraft).
The fleet that boasts 14 Boeing maritime patrol aircraft (P-8A Poseidon) will have anti-sub warfare, maritime strikes, and intelligence collection skills enhanced, Pat Conroy, the Minister for Defence Industry, mentioned in a statement on Tuesday.
The fourth Northrop Grumman-built drone aircraft — MQ-4C Triton, built with the US Navy, will be in the Northern Territory of Australia, nearest to Asia, and run by a squadron based in South Australia.
Triton has long-range surveillance abilities and will extend to the Australian maritime region, as specified in the statement.
The purchase of another additional Triton will enhance operations from Australian northern bases, a major priority under the Defence Strategic Review, per Conroy.
The review in April 2023 mentioned that the US was no longer the unipolar leader of Indo-Pacific, that the competition between China and the U.S. was defining the region, and major power competition also bore the potential for future conflict.
It further recommended the northern bases of the country become the focal point to deter adversaries and safeguard trade channels and communications.
The Australian Poseidon aircraft has carried out its patrols in the waters of the South China Sea and has operated from a Japanese airbase to enforce the UN Security Council’s sanctions on North Korea.
Conroy said that the Poseidon aircraft upgrades are expected to strengthen the safety and security of Australia’s “maritime interests”.
References: ABC News, The Print, WION
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