Australia to build major maritime drone fleet

The Australian Defence Force is pushing forward with plans to purchase seven large maritime surveillance unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) at a cost of nearly $3 billion, reports Radio Australia.

The decision to buy the maritime UAVs is being done against the wishes of top commanders of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) who have opposed the move because it will displace pilots and threaten the culture of the nation's air force, the story said.

Australia is interested in purchasing the new maritime surveillance version of Northrop Grumman's RQ-4 Global Hawk designated as the MQ-4C Triton. Australia's  maritime UAVs would be operational by 2019, the story said.

The RAAF would use the Triton to support a new generation of manned maritime patrol aircraft, the P-8A, which looks like a converted 737 airliner. The unmanned Tritons and manned P-8A would replace the RAAF's aging fleet of P3 Orions, the story said.


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