In June last year, CONTACT ran a story under the headline “Australia commits to Triton – confusion over cost” – so I asked Defence for clarification, but their answer only caused (me) even more confusion.
FILE PHOTO (2017): An MQ-4C Triton arrives at Naval Base Ventura County, California, after a flight from Palmdale that was remotely controlled from NAS Pax River. US Navy photo by Public Affairs Specialist Theresa Miller.
This week, Minister for Defence Christopher Pyne and Minister for Defence Industry Linda Reynolds released a joint statement that ads even more confusion to Project AIR 7000 – at least for me.
The press release announced that the government will purchase the next MQ-4C Triton Remotely Piloted Aircraft.
The problem with this is, MQ-4C Triton is not a ‘remotely piloted aircraft’. After planners input mission parameters, it can fly missions of more than 30 hours duration – autonomously.
There is no requirement for a remote pilot to have hands on a joystick. Whether RAAF chooses to have one on standby for emergencies or mission adjustments is irrelevant – he/she is technically not ‘required’.
Therefore calling the aircraft an “MQ-4C Triton Remotely Piloted Aircraft” (with capital letters as though that’s was its actual name) is actually and technically wrong.
Unfortunately, most of Australian’s media, including defence-focused media, is parroting this error.
But, was this really an error?
Or was it a calculated PC attempt to appease the ignorant who might not like the idea of planes buzzing around our skies without a human in control, if only remotely?
P.S. After the confusion and hoo-ha over the cost of the first aircraft – no mention of dollars this time, except the “significant opportunity for Australian industry to share in billions of dollars of system maintenance and network management“.
P.P.S. Is this the first aircraft fleet that’s been purchased one at a time?
Another comment from resident crankyman Sir Jeffrey Armiger – a retired Public Servant with a pet hate for BE – bovine excrement.
Sir Jeffrey Armiger is dedicated to the eradication of BE.
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