By Andrew Greene,
Published by ABC News, 1 December 2022
Visiting senior US military officers believe Australia is a “pot of gold at the end of the rainbow”, as they eye off this continent’s “prime” geography for future space operations.
- US military officials visiting Australia say conflict in space in the next few years is a very real prospect
- They believe the war in Ukraine is demonstrating the growing importance of space as a new war-fighting domain
- Australia’s southern location and potential launch sites near the equator make it an attractive prospect for future operations
Top-ranking members of the US Space Force are warning of China’s growing capability in the emerging military domain as they meet defence counterparts and local industry representatives.
“I’m visiting my allies and we’re talking about future partnerships that we can have,” US Space Force Lieutenant-General Nina Armagno told reporters in Canberra.
“This is prime country for space domain awareness,” the director of staff of the US Space Force added while speaking at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute.
The three-star general has travelled to Canberra along with Lieutenant-General John Shaw, the deputy commander of the US Space Command who is responsible for America’s combat capabilities above Earth.
General Shaw has warned a conflict in space in the next few years is a very real prospect, saying potential adversaries have already shown they can successfully shoot down satellites.
“It may begin with what we call reversible effects of jamming of satellite communications and such, or of dazzling — directed energy [at] intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance platforms,” he said.
“[Or] it could be cyber attacks against our space systems and architecture — so not just the satellites but the links, the ground nodes and the user architecture – [and] ultimately it could go to some sort of kinetic activity.”
Both of the visiting military officers believe the war in Ukraine is demonstrating the growing importance of space as a new war-fighting domain.
Last year Russia conducted a direct-ascent anti-satellite test to destroy one of its own ageing assets — and General Shaw says another potential adversary, China is making rapid progress in the field.
“They’ve certainly very swiftly advanced their space technology capabilities and I won’t get the numbers exactly right, but they had very few satellites 20 years ago, and now they have hundreds. They’ve advanced very, very quickly,” he said.
Australia’s own Defence Space Command was only formally stood up in March, but General Armagno says this country already has the natural advantage of its southern-hemisphere geography and potential launch sites close to the equator.
“It seems as [if] Australia is sitting on a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, really, for our common national security interests,” she said.
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