Heron to add to Australia’s unmanned capability
Minister for Defence Senator David Johnston announced the return of a Heron remotely-piloted aircraft (RPA) to Australia as part of a plan to ensure RAAF pilots maintain the skills to operate unmanned aerial systems until the introduction of the Triton.
“The Heron is a proven capability – providing ‘eyes in the sky’ for our troops in the Middle East,” Senator Johnston said.
“The retention the Heron following their withdrawal from Afghanistan later this year will ensure Australia remains at the forefront of this advancing technology. This is prudent planning for possible future defence scenarios.”
“The retention of two Heron aircraft will help create a robust development programme to ensure RAAF is well prepared for the Government’s investment in the MQ-4C Triton,” Senator Johnston said.
The estimated cost of the Heron is $120 million over six years, including portable ground control stations initially based at Woomera, maintenance, logistics, training and renovations to facilities at RAAF Base Amberley. The contract extension with McDonald, Detwiler and Associates will be funded from within the existing Air Force budget, through a redistribution of tasks and priorities.