Amid increasing concerns about maritime security in its northern region, Australia is set to make substantial investments. The country will allocate $966 million to enhance its maritime surveillance capabilities. This investment will involve the procurement of additional long-range drone aircraft and the modernization of the Boeing Poseidon Maritime Patrol aircraft fleet, consisting of 14 planes.
Australia's Minister for Defence Industry, Pat Conroy, announced this significant initiative. The upgrade for the Poseidon aircraft will encompass enhancing their capabilities in anti-submarine warfare, maritime strike operations, and intelligence collection.
This move underscores Australia's commitment to bolstering its maritime security and surveillance measures in the strategically vital northern approaches. It reflects the nation's proactive stance in addressing evolving regional security challenges.
A recent report by Reuters revealed that the Poseidon aircraft have been actively involved in conducting patrols in the South China Sea. Additionally, they have operated from a Japanese airbase to enforce United Nations Security Council (UNSC) sanctions against North Korea.
Simultaneously, Australia's collaboration with the United States Navy has led to the development of the MQ-4C Triton drone aircraft. These drones will find their base in Australia's Northern Territory, strategically positioned in proximity to Asia. They will be operated by a newly established squadron located in South Australia State. This move represents a significant step in bolstering Australia's maritime surveillance and security efforts, particularly in the vital Asian region.
"The purchase of an additional Triton will enhance operations from Australia's northern bases, a priority under the Defence Strategic Review," Minister Conroy said.
According to a report by ABC News, the latest budget from the US Department of Defense reveals plans to discontinue the Triton program, with production set to halt next year. This decision will result in the US Navy having only 22 aircraft and significantly below its initial target of 70.
Former defense official Marcus Hellyer has expressed his view that the government's persistence with the Triton program appears unusual. Hellyer anticipates that the program is likely to incur higher costs than initially projected, encompassing both acquisition and sustainment expenses.
Image source: ANI