Bush’s visit.


At the same time, elite anti-terrorist troops will be ready on the ground if needed.

Mr Bush will land in Canberra on Wednesday night, and the fighter planes will escort his Air Force One plane into Canberra, then patrol overhead.

An Australian Defence Force spokesman, Brigadier Mike Hannan, says the job of the fighter planes is to protect the US president from any airborne threat.

Brigadier Hannan says the fighter jets have the ability to shoot down suspicious aircraft if necessary.

“They certainly have a range of capabilities. You are aware these are combat-fighter aircraft and they are there for a purpose, so it would be pointless ignoring that fact. They have a range of capabilities. But they are well-controlled by a very tight command-and-control system that’s designed to ensure that those capabilities would only be used in the most extreme of circumstances.”

More than 450 members of the Australian Federal Police are also involved in ensuring Mr Bush’s safety once he lands in Canberra.

The Deputy Chief Police Officer Commander, Mandy Newton, says police have been preparing for the visit for more than two months.

She says the level of security surrounding Mr Bush’s visit is unprecedented.

“We have a group of people that have worked with the advance party from the US secret service, and we’ve actually developed all of the plans around how the president will travel through the Australian Capital Territory and all of the visits he will make during that period of time to ensure maximum security is surrounding him.”

China’s president, Hu Jintao, will be arriving for an official visit immediately after Mr Bush departs and will also be protected by tight security.

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