Sydney, Australia, Sep 19 (EFE).- The Australian government will inject some AU$1.5 billion ($965 million) into modernizing its maritime patrol and response aircraft fleets, it said Tuesday, amid geopolitical tensions in the Indo-Pacific region.
A United States Air Force MQ-4C Broad Area Maritime Surveillance Triton unmanned aircraft for the U.S. Navy, that was officially unveiled at Northrop Grumman’s Palmdale facility on 14 June, is in view to spectators at the Waddington International Air Show at British RAF Waddington, Britain, 30 June 2012. EPA-EFE FILE/LINDSEY PARNABY
This amount will be used to purchase a fourth MQ-4C Triton unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), as well as to upgrade the air force fleet of Boeing P-8A Poseidon maritime surveillance aircraft.
Australia, which in recent years has joined several multilateral defense pacts, has increased its military spending for a more proactive strategy, and has been outspoken against China’s increasing push for influence in the Southeast Asia and Pacific regions.
The MQ-4C Triton will serve to monitor Australia’s vast maritime territory, according to a statement from Minister of Defense Industry Pat Conroy.
Manufactured by the American company Northrop Grumman, the UAV will join the three previously announced in 2018 and which will start to arrive next year.
Conroy also said that the improvements that will be made to the fleet of 14 Boeing P-8A aircraft “will be upgraded, delivering enhancements to anti-submarine warfare, maritime strike and intelligence collection capabilities.”
The Ministry of Defense estimates that these aircraft will enter the modernization program between 2026 and 2030, the statement said.
The government also reported that it had signed a contract with Northrop Grumman Australia valued at $220 million to establish a maintenance workforce at RAAF Base Tindal, Northern Territory, and RAAF Base Edinburgh, South Australia, where the fleet of Tritons will be based and operated from. EFE