There will be a queue forming for this posting in the American RPA world. From the Age
Craig Whitlock, Washington
A CONTROVERSIAL proposal for a joint Australian-US military air base in the Indian Ocean could lead to the launch of drone spy flights across the region, according to officials quoted in Washington.
The proposed base on the Australian-controlled Cocos Islands would form part of a major expansion of ties between Canberra and Washington as the Pentagon looks to shift its forces closer to south-east Asia.
Discussion of the proposal could spark further tensions with China. It comes after the agreement announced by US President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Julia Gillard in November to station up to 2500 US marines in Darwin.
The US is also planning to station warships in Singapore and to boost its military presence in the Philippines.
In the latest indicator of the regional push, Australian and US officials have said the Cocos Islands could be an ideal site for US surveillance aircraft, including unmanned, high-altitude Global Hawk drones that could conduct spy flights over the South China Sea.