Federal opposition leader Tony Abbott has said a Coalition government would buy three Northrop Grumman Global Hawk UAVs to bolster the nation’s border security if it wins government in this year’s federal election.
Speaking on April 23, Abbott made the announcement as part of a broader foreign policy and defence statement. “I can announce today, though, that one major acquisition, as soon as possible, would be three unmanned Global Hawk surveillance aircraft,” he said. “In a day, a Global Hawk can keep under surveillance 40,000 square nautical miles. These aircraft would help to protect the vast oil and gas projects now progressing on the North West Shelf. Real-time surveillance and their vast area of coverage should allow much earlier detection and interception of illegal boat arrivals.”
The Global Hawk has been under consideration by the ADF for several years as part of a two tiered replacement for the RAAF’s AP-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft. Under Phase 1B of Project Air 7000, the current Defence Capability Plan would see an unmanned maritime reconnaissance capability considered by the government from 2019 for service introduction in the early 2020s.