Australian Federal Police (AFP) Officers armed with short-barrelled Daniel Defense MK18 rifles (SBRs) will now be seen at airports across the country as a part of a specialised security program.
The Protection Operation Response Team (PORT) officers carrying these firearms form part of efforts to bring Australia into line with world-best-practice procedures for counter terrorism first response tactics.
Their kit includes the rifles and body cameras. The AFP says the SBRs provide a greater strategic scope and accuracy over distance. This capability will allow officers to respond from a greater distance and when combined with rapidly evolving situations, will provide an additional layer of support for first responders. The Daniel Defense M18 is also supplied to United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM).
The rollout of the PORT officers has coincided with a relaunch of the Airport Watch program across the country. The AFP plans to use the program to educate the public and aviation workers about what suspicious activity looks like and how to report it to authorities.
COVID-19 has impacted how airports have been used and staffed during 2020 and 2021, with many employees having never before worked in airports. Aviation staff, retail employees and others at Adelaide, Brisbane, Cairns, Canberra, Darwin, Gold Coast, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney airports will receive training and educational resources as part of the initiative.
Assistant Commissioner Lesa Gale said the rollout of the rifles was not in response to any specific threat to community safety at airports.
“The rollout of this capability for our officers is designed to ensure Australia aligns with world-best-practice for counter terrorism first response activity. It is vital we are equipped to respond immediately with the appropriate resources to any situation in Australian airports,” Assistant Commissioner Gale said.
Airport Watch and the PORT members will complement the AFP’s existing capabilities, which include community policing and counterterrorism first response capability, air security officers, joint intelligence teams and joint investigation teams, bomb appraisal officers and firearms and explosives detection canines.
Moves to implement the Airport Watch and PORT programs follow an internal training operation in 2017 which highlighted areas for aviation security improvements. In 2018, the Australian Government committed $107 million over four years to strengthen aviation security.
Daniel Defense MK18 rifle specifications
Mounting system: Picatinny
Calibre: 5.56mm NATO
Muzzle Thread: 1/2×28 TPI (Threads Per Inch)
Gas System: Carbine
Barrel: Chrome Moly Vanadium Steel, Cold Hammer Forged, 1:7 Twist, 10.3″ Government Profile, Carbine Gas System, Chrome Lined, MP Tested, and Mil-Spec Heavy Phosphate Coated
Product Weight: 5.71lb (2.59kg)
Length: 26 3/4″ (Collapsed) (67.95cm)
Buttstock: MAGPUL MOE Buttstock & Mil-Spec Receiver Extension
Magazine: MAGPUL 30-round PMAG