13 March 2014, 14:59

Australia to buy 7 US drones for $2.7 bln for monitoring ocean, keeping out asylum seekers

Australia to buy 7 US drones for $2.7 bln for monitoring ocean, keeping out asylum seekers

Australia plans on purchasing seven drones for $2.7 billion to monitor its waters and keep out asylum seekers attempting to enter the country illegally. The nation announced just yesterday that the fleet of heavy-duty unmanned drones will also keep an eye on its energy infrastructure.

According to AFP, Prime Minister for Australia Tony Abbott said the Triton Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, which can remain airborne for 33 hours, would be based in the southern city of Adelaide. One February report claims that at least seven of the US-built drones would be bought for $2.7 billion. However, it is Abbott pointed out that the finer details about how many will be purchased, when the drones will be paid for and total sum of the UAVs still needs to enter into the finalization process.

"These aircraft will patrol Australia's vast ocean approaches, and work closely with other existing and future Australian Defence Force assets to secure our ocean resources, including energy resources off northern Australia, and help to protect our borders," he said, as reported by AFP.

"They will provide the Australian Defence Force with unprecedented maritime surveillance capabilities, operating at altitudes up to 55,000 feet over extremely long ranges while remaining airborne for up to 33 hours," Abbott said.

An ally to the US, Australia is supposed to use these drones to watch over the Indian Ocean—a place that has become a key energy supply route. The US-made drones may also be used to find illegal fishers and asylum seekers, who many of times enter Australian water on poorly, constructed boats. They usually set off from locations like Indonesia and Sri Lanka.

It has taken the Australian government at least a decade to finally approve of using unmanned aerial vehicles at the nation’s borders. In the past, the proposal had been dismissed due to the lack of confidence in the technology available. Now that the hardware has matured, the government is getting ready to spend billions on the initiative.

Voice of Russia, AFP

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