The Coalition has backed away from its earlier promise to fast track the acquisition of a Global Hawk/Triton UAV if elected to government on Saturday. In launching the coalition’s defence policy on Monday, Opposition Leader Tony Abbott said the Coalition would now “consider closely the need for unmanned aerial surveillance vehicles” as part of a new Defence White Paper, a reversal on its previous promise to fast track such an acquisition.
“The acquisition of unmanned aerial vehicles will be dependent on the advice of the Chief of the Defence Force and service chiefs, as well as a clear cost-benefit assessment that demonstrates the value of these aircraft,” the Coalition’s Defence policy document reads.
“We believe there is merit in acquiring new state-of-the-art unmanned aerial vehicles – such as the Triton or equivalent capability. Australia lost its pre-eminent position in the Triton program and delivery schedule because of Labor’s ill thought-out decision in 2009 to delay this program [AIR 7000 Phase 1B] to 2022-23.”