US to station powerful radar, space telescope in Australia

November 14, 2012

The United States military will station a powerful radar and a space telescope in Australia as part of a major refocusing of priorities towards Asia, the two countries announced Wednesday.

The transfer of the C-band radar "will add considerably to surveillance of in our part of the world," Australian Defence Minister Stephen Smith told a news conference.

US Defense Secretary Leon Panettea described it as "major leap forward in bilateral and an important new frontier in the United States' rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region".

The deal calls for the first deployment of a US Air Force C-band radar in the southern hemisphere, allowing the Americans to better track space debris as well as Chinese space launches, senior US defence officials told reporters.

"It will give us visibility into things that are leaving the atmosphere, entering the atmosphere, really all throughout Asia," said a US defence official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The C-band is currently in Antigua at a facility.

Australia also agreed to host a new telescope (SST) designed to track small objects at "deep space altitudes" roughly 22,000 miles (35,000 kilometres) high, officials said.

The new telescope was built by the Pentagon's hi-tech research arm, the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA), and Australia was chosen as an ideal spot for the cutting-edge device, officials said.

The agreement reflects strengthening security ties between the two nations and the Pentagon's increasing focus on space as a new potential battlefield, in which China has made major progress.

The US military monitors space debris and has long wanted to enhance its in the .

Smith said the radar and telescope would be based on Australia's northwest cape, though a site is yet to found.

While the US will help get the C-band up and running and train Australian operators, no US military will be permanently stationed in Australia.

The cost to get it operational is about $30 million, with annual cost of $8-10m after that.

Smith said discussions had begun on possibly granting the US military access to airfields in northern Australia as well as naval ports, including Stirling near Perth.

The two sides also conferred on increasing the number of US Marines deploying to Darwin.

Explore further: US, Australia sign space surveillance deal

Related Stories

US, Australia sign space surveillance deal

November 8, 2010

Australia and the United States on Monday signed an agreement to cooperate in surveillance of space, possibly expanding the reach of a US military network tracking satellites and space junk.

US, Australia to take up cyber war in treaty

September 15, 2011

The United States and Australia will announce cooperation on cyber warfare as the close allies mark 60 years of a defense treaty by tackling 21st-century threats, officials said Wednesday.

Radar prototype begins tracking down space junk

March 9, 2012

Several times a year, the International Space Station needs to perform Debris Avoidance Maneuvers to dodge the ever-growing amount of space junk hurtling around in Earth orbit. Additionally, our increased dependence on satellites ...

Recommended for you

Earth might have hairy dark matter

November 23, 2015

The solar system might be a lot hairier than we thought. A new study publishing this week in the Astrophysical Journal by Gary Prézeau of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, proposes the existence of ...

Scientists detect stellar streams around Magellanic Clouds

November 23, 2015

(—Astronomers from the University of Cambridge, U.K., have detected a number of narrow streams and diffuse debris clouds around two nearby irregular dwarf galaxies called the Magellanic Clouds. The research also ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.