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Australia plan for drones to patrol borders: report

Published on Feb 15, 2014 11:11 AM

SYDNEY (AFP) - Australia plans to buy seven giant unmanned drones for AU$3 billion (S$3.4 billion), potentially to help patrol its borders, a report said on Saturday.

The unmanned aircraft, with the wingspan of a 737 passenger jet, would primarily be used by the military for spotting enemy ships and planes in a conflict.

But they could also be deployed to detect illegal fishermen and asylum-seekers, who frequently enter Australian waters on rickety boats, usually setting sail from Indonesia and Sri Lanka, The Australian newspaper said.

The military are already heavily involved in the conservative government's ongoing Operation Sovereign Borders policy, which is turning back asylum-seeker boats when safe to do so, a move that has angered Jakarta.

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