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Independent News For The Australian Public Service
Edition Number 401. Updated Tuesday, 18 March 2014

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Sea change on way for border surveillance

The Government has committed to the acquisition of the highly-capable Triton Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), also known as drones, subject to the successful completion of the US Navy development program currently under way.

The drones, which will be based in Adelaide, will patrol Australia's vast ocean approaches, and work closely with other existing and future Australian Defence Force assets to secure ocean resources and help to protect our borders.

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.

Australia to buy drone fleet

The Triton UAVs will be based in Adelaide, bringing significant economic benefits to South Australia.

This acquisition will require approximately $140 million of new facilities and infrastructure, approximately $100 million of which will be invested in South Australia.

This potentially involves the expansion and enhancement of existing facilities and infrastructure at RAAF Base Edinburgh. Support requirements for Triton should create approximately $20 million annually in further opportunities for South Australian companies.

The total number of Triton UAVs to be acquired and their introduction into service date will be further considered by Government in 2016, based on the Defence White Paper.

The Government has also announced a contract that includes $78 million in work for BAE in Adelaide.

This forms part of a five-year multi-million dollar contract with Boeing Defence Australia for the sustainment of the Royal Australian Air Force's E-7A Wedgetail aircraft.

The main contract will now run until June 2019 and includes engineering and maintenance support, repairs, spare parts and aircrew and maintenance training for the Wedgetail fleet.

This is a significant outcome for the Wedgetail program and for the 290 industry staff employed directly on Wedgetail support in the Newcastle, Brisbane/Ipswich and Adelaide regions.

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