WASHINGTON, DC – Australia is seeking to augment its drone fleet, as the conservative government assesses priorities for its annual $22.4 billion (US) budget. In “Australia Rethinking Military Drones” the WSJ notes that Australian Defense Minister David Johnston has expressed interest in unarmed, long-range unmanned aerial vehicles that could help shore up border security. Meanwhile, the Australian government has been following the development of Northrup Grumman’s MQ-4C Triton. As the U.S. government loosens export restrictions, Australia may be in a position to purchase the drone.
U.S. defense contractors will have their largest-ever presence at the Singapore Airshow next week, lured by the prospect of a growing Asian market. According to an estimate by consultant Avascent, that market is valued at US$350 billion, excluding China, over the next five years.”
Clearly, Australia is not the only country in the region looking to acquire new hardware. Although Australia is negotiating free-trade pacts with China and Japan, and has already secured one with South Korea–ostensibly to decrease tensions between itself and major players in the neighborhood–the prospect of an Asian-Pacific arms race looms.”Three of China’s newest and most powerful naval vessels patrolled south of Indonesia’s Java Island—facing Australia’s north—for the first time last week during a rare foray into the Indian Ocean that raised security eyebrows in Canberra.”