Aerial surveillance begins across Western/Central Pacific

New Pacific Patrol Boat design
New Pacific Patrol Boat design

A civilian aerial surveillance service has begun across the Central and Western Pacific region as part of the Australian Government’s $2 billion (US$1.6 billion) Pacific Maritime Security Program.

When fully implemented, the Pacific Maritime Surveillance Program Aerial Surveillance will provide up to 1,400 hours of aerial surveillance each year across the Central and Western Pacific through two dedicated long-range aircraft based in the region.

The surveillance, in conjunction with the Pacific Patrol Boat program, is designed provide targeted maritime patrolling and enhance the ability of Pacific Island countries to defend against regional maritime security threats such as illegal fishing and transnational crime.

The Australia Government has committed to provide this support for the next 30 years. Pacific countries will have access to surveillance information 365 days per year to support intelligence-targeted patrolling and protection of their resources.

The AU$10 million aerial surveillance service is fully funded by the Australian Department of Defence. Aircraft tasking will be coordinated by the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA). The inaugural flight occurred out of Micronesia in December 2017.

As the only regional surveillance centre in the Pacific, the FFA is responsible for the day-to-day coordination of the platform and facilitating communication with regional maritime law enforcement agencies.

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