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.