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A New Indian Ocean Global Hawk Base?

by John Reed on March 28, 2012

Here’s one more sign that we’re serious about shifting resources to the Pacific region. The Pentagon is eyeing the Cocos Islands off the coast off northwest Australia (they’re actually closer to Indonesia than Oz) as the next base for RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned spy planes. DoD officials are eying the tiny atoll as a relief valve for America’s overcrowded secret base at Diego Garcia (smack in the center of the Indian Ocean. The Cocos Islands are also a lot closer to all the action in the Southwest Pacific Ocean. Spyplanes operating out of Cocos can easily monitor vital shipping lanes nearby like the Strait of Malacca.

Remember, in the last year we’ve learned that U.S. Marines will be based in Darwin, northern Australia and that Littoral Combat Ships will be based in Singapore. Meanwhile, Washington and the Manilla are working on a plans for an increased American military presence in the Philippines.

Dont get too excited yet, though. Australian officials say any U.S. facility on the island is a long way off.

From Australia’s ABC news:

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has confirmed that officials from Australia and the US have been discussing increased defence cooperation in the region, including possible greater use of the islands.

She did not deny the reports, but said there had “not been any substantial progress” made on many of the matters discussed with the US in November.

“Look, I’m not going to play a rule-in, rule-out game about something that’s been discussed at officials level,” she said.

This morning Defence Minister Stephen Smith told AM that the Cocos airstrip would need to be upgraded to be able to launch the drones and stressed that it was “very much a long-term prospect”.

“It’s not currently ideal because one of the first things that we would have to do, and this has been agreed between me and my counterparts, is a substantial infrastructure upgrade, particularly so far as the airfield is concerned,” he said.

“That’s one of the reasons why this is very much a long-term prospect. So again, I say, people should not get ahead of themselves.”

Mr Smith said US and Australian officials were looking at “three priorities” in the wake of the agreement with Mr Obama.

He said they were: the basing of US Marines in Darwin; greater air traffic through northern Australia; and, in the longer term, American access to the Navy’s HMAS Stirling base in Perth.

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{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

blight_ March 28, 2012 at 11:05 am

It's a good location for SE Asia. Close to Aus, a little far from AfPak.

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A. Nonymous March 28, 2012 at 11:11 am

Secret base at Diego Garcia? Everyone, with the possible exception of Inspector Clouseau, knows about that base.

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LeoC March 29, 2012 at 9:06 am

Great! Diego Garcia is now compromised. Hope the word doesn't get out about Area 51! Oops.

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Tim March 28, 2012 at 11:44 am

It's not a long way off. It's actually good to go. It's only a matter of will and… money.

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jamesb March 28, 2012 at 1:15 pm

WAIT A MINUTE!

How come that's a Global Hawk in the picture????

Aren't they supposed to up for EARLY RETIREMENT?

Gosh NOT AGAIN?

Well we didn't REALLY mean they'd be retired , Right?

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blight_ March 28, 2012 at 1:29 pm

One of the Blocks of the GH is being stopped early. That is all. The program continues.

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Brian Black March 28, 2012 at 1:40 pm

This should enable a close eye to be kept on those pesky Australians. I’ve always been suspicious of them.

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Lance March 28, 2012 at 2:27 pm

Like Diego Garcia It be a idea base for US airpower to operate from with no large civilian population to complain about noise and activity and ect. Good idea.

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AlC March 28, 2012 at 2:49 pm

Only down size is that it appears on Google Earth to be mighty small. Not sure they
can build as many facilities like hangars and bunkers as on DG.

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Malc March 29, 2012 at 7:52 am

That is an A model in the picture, which is already retired, at least, from the AF. The Navy bought three of them and NASA has two others that can still fly.

Block 30s (B model variants) are the only ones currently up for retirement. Congress hasn't approved that, yet. If the Senate doesn't pass a budget (they haven't for the past three years), then retiring the Block 30s will require separate congressional approval.

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Michel Alexandre Salim March 28, 2012 at 10:19 pm

You'd think they'd have the decency of at least consulting with Indonesia first. While drones could transit from the Cocos Islands without violating Indonesian territory, if they're indeed headed to the Southwest Pacific and not the Strait of Malacca, one gets the uncomfortable feeling they'd just violate Indonesian airspace below radar coverage just to save fuel.
http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2012/03/29/ri-

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leesea March 28, 2012 at 11:03 pm

there is not much if anything secreat about the US naval facilities on Diego Garcia ever since it was built in the early 1980s.
It is just that nobody other than military (want) to go there~

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Rabbit March 29, 2012 at 1:16 am

Well, aside from the 1500+ former inhabitants and their descendants, but with a little bit of legal jiggery pokery we've been able to "solve" that little problem. The Mauritian side of my family bitches and moans about how they got cheated by the evil colonial British so many decades ago.

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TOM March 30, 2012 at 12:19 pm

FOR ALL OF US WHO HAVE DONE OUR TIME, I ASK, WHAT WE READ AND SAY ON THESE SITES SCARE THE S$%^ OUT OF ME. WE ARE ALL INTELLIGENT AND KNOWING BUT I FEAR THAT TMI GETS OUT AND COMPROMISES OUR STRATEGIC ABILITIES AND SO CALLED SECRETS JUST GIVE OUR OPPONENTS ALL THEY NEED TO KNOW. ALL OF US ARE GREAT PEOPLE BUT I JUST FEEL &&&&&&&&&&&??. GOD BLESS AMERICA AND OUR TROOPS. LET'S GIVE THEM A CHANCE!

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dan m March 30, 2012 at 10:38 pm

What

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Putanginamo March 31, 2012 at 4:40 am

"F" those bastards in the Philippines. They stole our base and now they want increased presence ? F them. Why so we can build another base for you bastards to steal ?
They stole subic because it was something they could not create on their own.

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Charles April 2, 2012 at 4:34 pm

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