US drones to be based on Australian territory..for “humanitarian events”..
The United States is eyeing Australia’s Cocos Islands in the Indian Ocean as a potential spy base.
The Washington Post reported the US and Australia were planning a major expansion of military ties including possible flights by Global Hawk long-range surveillance drones operating fromy the Cocos Island territory.
But a spokesman for Defence Minister Stephen Smith said expanded use of the Cocos Islands was a longer-term option for closer Australian-US engagement and not one of the three priority levels of engagement.
“On the issue of drones and Cocos Islands, the details of any possible US air or ship access to the Cocos Islands have yet to be discussed or decided upon,” Mr Smith’s spokesman said.
Top priority for increased US-Australia cooperation is the rotation of members of the US Marine Corps through the Northern Territory with the advance party set to arrive early next month.
That was outlined last November when United States President Barack Obama visited Darwin.
Starting this year, up to 250 US Marines will train for six months at a time in Australia’s top end during the dry season, rising to a battalion group of 1000 in 2014 and a full 2500-strong Marine Air Ground Task Force by 2016.
Also planned is greater use of RAAF bases in northern Australia for US aircraft.
In the longer term, there’s the prospect of enhanced US ship and submarine visits to HMAS Stirling navy base near Perth.
The Australian government is considering controversial plans to allow the launch of American spy planes from Australian territory.
The US military wants to use the Cocos Islands, 2700km northwest of the mainland, for un-manned patrol planes and aircraft carriers.
The Washington Post has reported that the Cocos Islands are ‘an ideal site not only for manned US surveillance aircraft but for Global Hawks, an unarmed, high-altitude surveillance drone.
‘Aircraft based in the Cocos would be well positioned to launch spy flights over the South China Sea.’
Prime Minister Julia Gillard at the Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul appeared to confirm Australia is in discussions with the US over the proposal.
She referred to comments made by Defence Minister Stephen Smith in November when during US President Barack Obama’s visit he announced plans to base a small number of US troops in the NT.
Defence Minister Stephen Smith said at the time of Mr Obama’s visit that US aircrafts and ships would use the Coco Islands eventually.
He has since confirmed that it is a long-term option.
The islands would be a replacement for the current US Indian Ocean base, Diego Garcia, which the US leases from Britain.
Ms Gillard in Seoul wasn’t ruling out the plan.
‘I’m not going to play a rule-in, rule-out game about something that is being discussed at officials level,’ she said.
this follows on from the announcement of US marines doing tours through darwin..look where the islands are..right next to indonesia..the one we are watching..and dont even try to bring out the humanitarian events argument..thats bullshit..australia is being turned into a base..nuclear subs in perth..yeah..nothing has changed wether liberals or labor are in charge..we are still the american deputy sheriff in asia..