The Australian authorities has canceled the SkyGuardian armed drone program for the Royal Australian Air Force. The funding is being redirected to the newly-announced REDSPICE cybersecurity and intelligence program.
REDSPICE, the Resilience, Effects, Defense, Space, Intelligence, Cyber and Enablers program, is a flagship element of the federal Budget introduced on Tuesday.
The program goals to double the staffing ranges of the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) over the subsequent 4 years, creating some 1,900 new jobs. The complete program price range is AU$9.9 billion over the subsequent decade, boosting each offensive and defensive cyber capabilities.
“This is the biggest ever investment in Australia’s cyber preparedness,” stated Treasurer Josh Frydenberg.
However in Senate Estimates on Friday, protection officers confirmed that little of that is new cash.
Of the AU$9.9 billion complete, solely AU$4.2 billion is budgeted to be spent over the four-year ahead estimates interval by to 20252026. And of that quantity, solely round AU$588.5 million is new funding.
An enormous chunk of the prevailing funding will come from the now-cancelled venture AIR 7003, a deliberate AU$1.3 billion program to develop an armed remotely piloted plane system.
In November 2019, the federal government had confirmed that defence’s most well-liked platform was the General Atomics MQ-9B SkyGuardian, a variant of the Predator B drone identified within the UK because the Protector.
AIR 7003 had been scheduled for presidency consideration within the present 2021-22 monetary yr.
According to Asia Pacific Defense ReporterGeneral Atomics had proposed growing a multi-national service hub in Adelaide.
“The company has probably spent around $30 million on the project over a decade and is unlikely to recover a single cent,” wrote editor Kym Bergmann.
“The scant information available indicates that Defense Minister Peter Dutton has asked the Department to identify projects that need to be canceled to free up funds to hire more personnel, particularly in support of the cyber security announcement.”
According to protection officers, round AU$10 million had been spent on AIR 7003 earlier than its cancellation.
The the rest of REDSPICE funding comes from different canceled initiatives. This contains about AU$3 billion of “both unapproved and approved” funding which had been allotted to the now-cancelled Attack-class submarines, the SEA 1000 Future Submarine Program, and round AU$236 million for “an ICT remediation project around modernization and mobility “.
Funds additionally come from beforehand deliberate ASD initiatives which have now change into a part of REDSPICE.
Witnesses earlier than Estimates on Friday morning had been unable to shed any gentle on the place the identify REDSPICE got here from.