Australia to deploy surveillance aircraft to assist Ukraine


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

“The deployment of the E-7A Wedgetail as an additional early warning capability will help ensure that vital support flowing to Ukraine by the international community is protected,” said Defence Minister Richard Marles.

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

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; Editing by Christina Fincher)

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