Â Admiral Barrie, Air Marshal McCormack, Dr Chessell, Lieutenant Colonel Bolibrzuch , ladies and gentlemen:
Earlier this morning I presented awards to Australian Defence scientists in recognition of the innovative work they have carried out on collaborative projects under the international Technical Cooperation Program we have with New Zealand, the UK, Canada and the United States.
It is very gratifying to see that Australian scientific expertise is not only playing a big part in the defence of our country but is sought after and valued by our allies particularly the United States.
Our defence ties with the US have never been stronger than they are in this, the 50th anniversary year of the ANZUS treaty. We have much greater access to US military technology today than ever before, including highly critical and sensitive technologies that have the potential to significantly improve our capabilities.
The Global Hawk deployment to Australia is a good example of collaboration on a technology that could result in enhanced intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities for Australia.
In the Defence White Paper released last year, the Government identified a comprehensive surveillance system as a key goal to provide continuous coverage of our extended air and sea approaches.
As laid out in the White Paper, the Government is committed to developing enhanced intelligence capabilities, particularly in relation to imagery collection, and deeper levels of cooperation with the US in a number of key systems.
With the current Global Hawk deployment we are seeing that commitment in action.
Within the next few years, Defenceâ€™s wide area surveillance system will provide the potential for ongoing real-time coverage of our northern air and sea approaches. This system will be fully integrated with other national coastal surveillance capabilities resulting in comprehensive coverage of all air and sea movements along our shores. This is a high priority for the Government.
So the Global Hawk deployment is very timely. Iâ€™m informed that the test flights during the last few weeks have produced useful data, some excellent imagery, as well as valuable lessons for the RAAF, the US Air Force and DSTO.
I also understand that Global Hawk has been awarded the US aerospace industryâ€™s most prestigious award for 2000 the Robert J. Collier Trophy for Aeronautical Achievement. To put the importance of this award in perspective, previous awardees have included the Apollo 11 astronauts and the Global Positioning System team.
On behalf of the Government, I extend congratulations to Northrop Grumman, the prime contractor, Rolls-Royce, Raytheon, L-3 Communications, the US Air Force, and the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, who cooperated in developing this remarkable aircraft.
One of the attractions of the Global Hawk system is the opportunity it provides to collect, analyse and distribute data and imagery. It can produce radar, infrared and visual band images.
I have pleasure in now releasing a very special image of the city of Adelaide and its environs taken from a height of 55,000 feet. This image was captured by one of the radar modes which DSTO scientists added to the Global Hawk system especially for its deployment in Australia.
Let me also congratulate both the Australian and US operators on the successful deployment of this aircraft. I wish them luck with their further missions.
Australiaâ€™s involvement with Global Hawk will not end at the completion of this deployment. It marks the first phase of a project to provide this type of capability to bolster Australiaâ€™s intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities. In further phases, we will explore acquiring such a system.
The Government intends to make a final decision on the acquisition at a cost of between $100 and 250m in 2004/05. Between now and then, Defence will review the results of this trial and explore the available options to ensure we receive the best value for money on behalf of the Australian people.
I look forward to seeing the results of this deployment included in those considerations. Peter Reith MP, Minister For Defence, On Global Hawk Uninhabited Aerial Vehicle (UAV)