The Navy has taken a step towards using drones for the dangerous work of clearing sea mines, with the Morrison government making a campaign pledge to fast-track the construction of two new “mine hunter” ships from which drones could be launched.
Defence was scheduled to upgrade its fleet of four mine hunters so that the Royal Australian Navy could continue operating them well into the 2030s.
But instead Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced on Monday that the construction of two new ships would be brought forward under a re-elected Coalition government by between five and 10 years as part of a $1 billion shipbuilding package in Western Australia’s Henderson shipyards.
Defence Industry Minister Linda Reynolds said the decision had been “done at the request of Defence”.
“Our advice is that new technologies are available and so we have brought forward by up to a decade this $1 billion project to make sure that our men and women have the best possible mine warfare support,” she said.