Shaolwater Bay to get millions for armed drones

Shoalwater Bay Training Area will receive millions of dollars of upgrades in coming years, a large part of which is required to accommodate armed drones.

US Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Brian Ferguson

“Shoalwater Bay Training Area will be upgraded to support the range of new land combat and amphibious warfare capabilities over the next decade to 2025-26, representing an investment of up to $140 million,” Assistant Defence Minister Michael McCormack said today.

 “New facilities at the Shoalwater Bay Training Area will support the introduction of new armed intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance unmanned aircraft in the early 2020s,” Mr McCormack said.

“An additional investment of around $40 million is planned for the decade between 2025-26 and 2035-36.

“Central Queensland, particularly the Shoalwater Bay Training Area, is a unique and important location for the Australian Defence Force and international Military training partners.

“It is a privilege to visit and see first-hand where our military personnel conduct specific, high-level training to meet capability objectives.”

RAAF currently operates two Heron aircraft, based out of RAAF Base Woomera in South Australia, to ensure its personnel develop and maintain the skills required to operate complex unmanned aerial systems until the introduction of the MQ-4C Triton and MQ-9 Reaper armed ‘drone’ too.

The Australian government is considering the acquisition of seven MQ-4C Triton high-altitude long-endurance (HALE) unmanned aircraft systems, which probably won’t be delivered until the mid 2020s – and as many as six RAAF pilots have already been sent to the USA to learn to operate MQ-9 Reapers, with some reports suggesting that at least some of these pilots have gained combat experience on the type in Syria during their postings.

Further information on the Defence White Paper is available at






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Brian Hartigan

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