As if the new data retention proposals weren’t enough to get you breaking out your tin foil hat, the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) has revealed that it wants to put seven massive surveillance UAV drones into active service by 2019.
A report by the ABC into Australia’s drone capability reveals that the RAAF in its latest Defence Capability Plan brought forward the plan to deploy drones into Australian airspace by three years after eight years of um-ing and ah-ing by previous governments and opposition parties.
The drone that the Air Force wants to put into service is the MQ4C Triton from Northrop Grumman — an aircraft that can fly at a maxiumum speed of over 600kph for a total time of 28 hours. Extrapolating those figures gives you a theoretical total distance covered per flight session of over 15,000 kilometres.
The cost of the nine drones? Between $2 billion and $3 billion. That’s about $200 million per drone.
The RAAF says these aircraft will be used in naval exercises. That is, finding asylum seeker boats and patrolling the borders for illegal fishing.
The Triton is certainly a terrifying looking vehicle, one that the US Navy plans to put into service as early as 2015. The ABC reports that the Americans have 68 of them on order, and many of them will be based in Australian-controlled territory. That is, islands off the coast of Western Australia.