Australia to deploy surveillance aircraft to assist Ukraine


BERLIN (Reuters) -Australia will deploy a Royal Australian Air Force surveillance aircraft to Germany to support Ukraine by protecting a humanitarian and military gateway outside its territory, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said on Monday.

The deployment of the E-7A Wedgetail aircraft for six months will include up to 100 Australian crew and support personnel, Albanese told a press conference in Berlin with Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

The aircraft, a show of Australia’s commitment to upholding the rules-based international order, will help protect the multinational logistics hubs “essential to the flow of military and humanitarian assistance to the people of Ukraine,” he said.

“This contribution is very significant, both for what it will do but also for what it symbolizes, which is Australia’s commitment to doing what we can to provide the appropriate resources” that will maximize the country’s support for Ukraine.

The aircraft will not enter Ukrainian, Russian or Belarusian airspace, according to a statement issued by Albanese’s office.

The Wedgetail combines long-range surveillance radar, secondary radar and tactical voice and data communications systems to provide airborne early warning and control, Australia’s defence force said.

While in Berlin, Albanese also attended the signing of an in-principle agreement to deliver more than 100 Australian-made Boxer armed carriers to Germany in one of Canberra’s largest defence export deals.

On Tuesday, Albanese will attend a summit of NATO leaders in Lithuania, to which Australia has been invited as an Indo-Pacific Four partner, along with Japan, New Zealand and South Korea.

He will address the NATO summit on Wednesday.

A NATO partner since 2014, after contributing to NATO-led operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, Australia has agreed a new three-year partnership programme, Australian officials said.

(Reporting by Kirsty Needham and Miranda Murray; Editing by Christina Fincher, Friederike Heine, William Maclean)

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