The Coalition has put back plans to rapidly acquire three Northrop Grumman Global Hawk unmanned surveillance aircraft should it win office after it failed to include the aircraft in its policy costings, which were released on August 17.
In releasing the costings, the aircraft are noted as an expenditure item under the category of national security, but no funds were allocated in either the current year or forward estimates for the 2013-2014 financial year. Opposition finance spokesman Andrew Robb told The Age newspaper that the Coalition still planned to acquire the aircraft but it had been delayed to the “out years”.
In a speech at the Lowy Institute on April 24, Liberal leader Tony Abbott had promised to buy three Global Hawks “as soon as possible” if the Coalition were elected. Abbott noted that the long endurance of the Global Hawk would make them ideal for patrolling the North West Shelf area as well as providing greater surveillance of illegal boat arrivals.