Australia improves maritime surveillance via the use of drones and aircraft improvements

Australia is set to invest A$1.5 billion ($966 million) to enhance its maritime surveillance capabilities in the north. This will involve the purchase of additional long-range drones and upgrades to the Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft. The 14-strong fleet of Boeing P-8A Poseidon Maritime Patrol aircraft will see improvements in their anti-submarine warfare, maritime strike, and intelligence gathering capabilities, as announced by the Minister for Defense Industry, Pat Conroy.


A fourth MQ-4C Triton drone aircraft, manufactured by Northrop Grumman in collaboration with the U.S. Navy, will be stationed in Australia's Northern Territory, which is geographically closest to Asia. This drone will be operated by a newly established squadron in South Australia and will be responsible for long-range surveillance of Australia's maritime region.


Conroy highlighted that the acquisition of an extra Triton drone will bolster operations from Australia's northern bases, aligning with the priorities outlined in the Defense Strategic Review. The review, conducted in April, noted that the U.S. was no longer the sole dominant power in the Indo-Pacific region and pointed out the escalating competition between the U.S. and China as a defining factor for the region with potential for conflict.

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The review suggested that Australia's northern bases should serve as a deterrent to adversaries and safeguard trade routes and communications. Australian Poseidon aircraft have been active in patrolling the South China Sea and enforcing United Nations Security Council sanctions on North Korea from a base in Japan. Conroy affirmed that these upgrades to the Poseidon aircraft would further secure Australia's maritime interests.

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