One Triton, when complemented by Australia’s intended purchase of Boeing P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft, can cover almost 7 million square kilometers in one mission, twice the surface area of India.
“Tritons will be contributing to the military surveillance picture, and to the extent that Chinese military expansion is one of the things that needs to be kept an eye on, they will be doing that,” Davies said.
He said the Tritons would effectively become the southern arm of a broad allied network that would see Canberra exchanging intelligence with the US, which already rotates Marines and naval ships through northern Australia.
Johnston, whose conservatives have always favored the tightest possible US alliance, said Australian Tritons would neutralize thoughts in Washington of Canberra’s far-flung Cocos-Keeling islands being upgraded as a base for US UAVs in the eastern Indian Ocean, just south of Indonesia.
“Darwin would be much more logical,” he said.