Aus­tralia to buy $3 bil­lion spy drone fleet


While the Royal Aus­tralian Air Force (RAAF) wants to buy MQ-4Cs, the naval vari­ant of the Global Hawk, it has also looked at the Mariner, above, which can carry out 80 per cent of the same mis­sions at 10 per cent of the cost. The Aus­tralian De­fence Force is qui­etly res­ur­rect­ing plans to buy seven huge in­tel­li­gence and sur­veil­lance drones that could cost up to $3 bil­lion. The un­manned aerial ve­hi­cles will be used for maritime sur­veil­lance and in­ter­cept­ing asy­lum seeker boats.

The de­ci­sion comes de­spite claims that the RAAF’s top com­man­ders have long op­posed the ac­qui­si­tion of un­manned aerial ve­hi­cles be­cause they will put pi­lots out of a job and threaten RAAF cul­ture. The $200 mil­lion Northrop Grum­man RQ-4 Global Hawk re­con­nais­sance drone is the largest, most ex­pen­sive un­manned aerial ve­hi­cle in the world to­day.

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