RAAF surveillance plane for Ukraine

Australia will deploy a surveillance aircraft for logistical support to Ukraine but it will not enter the war-torn country’s airspace, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese says during a visit to Germany ahead of a NATO summit in Lithuania.

Jul 11, 2023, updated Jul 11, 2023
A Royal Australian Air Force E-7A Wedgetail. Photo: AAP/Australia Defence Force

A Royal Australian Air Force E-7A Wedgetail. Photo: AAP/Australia Defence Force

Albanese is set to meet the leaders of New Zealand, Japan and South Korea on the sidelines of a meeting of the military alliance in Vilnius from Tuesday to discuss the war in Ukraine.

The early warning and control Royal Australian Air Force E-7A Wedgetail aircraft will help protect multinational logistics hubs to ensure the uninterrupted flow of military and humanitarian aid into Ukraine, Albanese said.

The aircraft will be deployed for six months and based in Germany and will operate within European airspace while avoiding the territory of Ukraine, Russia or Belarus.

Albanese said the deployment will include up to 100 crew and support personnel from Australia.

“This demonstrates Australia’s commitment to upholding the rules-based international order,” he told reporters in Berlin on Monday.

The aircraft will be sent as part of Operation Kudu, the Australian Defence Force’s commitment to the training of Ukrainian recruits in the United Kingdom.

Earlier, Albanese announced Australia will sell locally made armoured vehicles to Germany under a $1 billion defence export deal.

The prime minister met with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Berlin ahead of the NATO summit.

More than 100 Brisbane-made Boxer heavy weapon carriers will be sold to Germany, one of the largest defence export deals in Australia’s history.

“This is good for our defence, this is good for our national sovereignty but it’s also good for our economy,” he told reporters in Berlin.

Albanese said the sale of the vehicles, made by German defence manufacturer Rheinmetall, would be worth more than $1 billion to the Australian economy.

Both leaders declined to comment on the United States’ decision to provide Ukraine with cluster munitions, a type of weapon banned by more than 100 countries including Germany and Australia as part of an international convention.

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Scholz called it “a sovereign decision by the United States of America… we can say that we would not make such deliveries because we have made this commitment, and I won’t comment any further on this American decision”.

Albanese said Australia was also a signatory to the international convention.

“We don’t have such weapons and we don’t intend to change that position, and I agree with the Chancellor about his comments referring to what other nations may do,” he said.

The prime minister reaffirmed Australia’s backing for the Ukrainian government and people on Monday.

“This is about the people of Ukraine, struggling to defend their democracy and their sovereignty,” he said.

Albanese’s three-day visit to Europe will include a meeting with New Zealand Prime Minister Chris Hipkins.

He’ll also meet with the leaders of Japan and South Korea, who have been invited to attend the NATO summit.

Ukraine’s ambassador to Australia Vasyl Myroshnychenko thanked Mr Albanese and said Ukraine was grateful for the military and humanitarian aid.


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