The Global Hawk high altitude long endurance (HALE) UAV is still very much on the cards for the RAAF despite the unmanned element of the Air 7000 AP-3C Orion replacement program being pushed back earlier this year in favour of the manned replacement.
Speaking in an interview with The Australian last week, Chief of Air Force AIRMSHL Mark Binskin said the RAAF’s interest in the Global Hawk was far from dead. “We saw the priority with the ageing P-3 fleet of bringing in the manned platform so we could cover the anti-submarine and surveillance and then move the (BAMS) surveillance a bit further out to the end of the decade,” he said.
The RAAF recently launched a program to purchase operating time on two Heron UAVs in Afghanistan alongside the Canadian military from private contractor MDA, which is seen as a learning step for the Air Force in the operation of medium to large scale UAVs, one which will likely lead on to a Global Hawk derivative acquisition late next decade.
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