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Air 7000 Phase 1B.



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THE HON. JOEL FITZGIBBON MP Minister for Defence

www.defence.gov.au

Monday, 2 March 2009 025/2009

AIR 7000 PHASE 1B

The Minister for Defence, the Hon. Joel Fitzgibbon MP, today announced that the Government has decided not to proceed on to the next partnership phase of the United States Navy in the Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS) program.

Under Project AIR 7000 Phase 1B, Defence aims to acquire an uninhabited aerial surveillance system based on the Global Hawk aircraft built by Northrop Grumman.

The delivery schedule for the United States Navy’s BAMS program has slipped and resulted in the earliest possible in-service date for the BAMS aircraft moving out to 2015.

“Introducing such an advanced new aircraft at this time would have caused incredible workforce pressures on the Australian Defence Force, particularly given the requirement to transition the Air Force’s AP-3C Orion fleet to a new manned surveillance aircraft in the same time period,” Mr Fitzgibbon said.

“The Australian Government has taken swift action to alleviate these transitional issues by declining the option to continue on with further collaboration with the United States Navy’s developmental program at this time.”

Defence will continue to closely monitor the progression of BAMS and other similar unmanned aircraft programs. These broader intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities will be fully covered in the White Paper.

“The Australian Government has every confidence that the United States Navy BAMS program will deliver a very capable uninhabited aircraft. However, at this stage in the development of this project, it is in Australia’s best interests to not knowingly risk incurring the unmanageable workforce chaos that would result.

“Blindly pushing on with the program would have placed a huge and unnecessary strain on our personnel in trying to potentially manage three separate airframes at the one time and I was not prepared to place this unnecessary burden on our men and women in uniform,” Mr Fitzgibbon said.

Media contacts: Christian Taubenschlag (Joel Fitzgibbon): 02 6277 7800 or 0438 595 567 Defence Media Liaison: 02 6265 3343 or 0408 498 664