The Federal Government is considering allowing the US to base military surveillance drones on the Cocos Islands – an Australian territory located in the Indian Ocean between Australia and Sri Lanka.
The news comes four months after the US and Australia agreed to a closer military alliance during Barack Obama’s visit to Australia last year.
Aerial drones (otherwise known as unmanned aerial vehicles) are now a fixture of the modern skyline and the Cocos Island discussion is only the most recent mention of drones in the media.
The rise of drone technology is due largely to their flexibility – a drone need only be constructed to carry a camera for surveillance or a weapon. Not having to accommodate a pilot makes a huge difference to the design and, more importantly, the costs of building and running the machine.
While convenience and utility is driving the use of drones, important questions are being raised about their use for surveillance of civilian populations and in unmanned missions to target enemy combatants