Australia buys high tech drones monitor South china sea and Pacific.

Australia will invest Aus$7 billion [US$5.2 billion] to develop and buy high-tech US drones for joint military operations and to monitor waters including the South China Sea, it said Tuesday.

Canberra has been embarking on its largest peacetime naval investment through a massive shipbuilding strategy that includes new submarines, off shore patrol vessels and frigates to shore up its defence capabilities.

As part of this, the government will spend Aus$ 1.4 billion to buy the first of the six MQ-4C Triton  maritime surveillance  drones, with the aircraft to enter service from  mid-2023, complementing  seven P-8A Poseidon planes currently in use.

''Together those air crafts will significantly enhance our  anti-submarine warfare and marine strike capability," Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said in a statement.

This investment will protect our borders and make our region more secure."

The drones - high altitude, long endurance aircraft that can support missions for up to 24 hours and provide a 360 degree view of their surroundings  for over 2,000 nautical miles -will replace  the  AP-3C Orion spyplane.

''It gives us enormous capabilities in surveillance  and reconnaissance,'' Defence industry Minister Christopher Pyne told   Sky News,  adding that the total cost was about  Aus$7 billion.

''Australia's responsible for about 10 percent of the world's surface  into the Indian Ocean, the Pacific, down to Antarctica up into South China Sea.''

Pyne said the drones would be used to monitor who was in Australian waters, other countries naval vessels, for people smuggling and illegal fishing. [Agencies]


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