The warships of any potential adversary threatening to mount a seaborne attack on Australian could be expected to have reasonably sophisticated electronic systems for ascertaining position accurately, radar scanning of surrounding skies and seas for threats, target identification, and communication with other elements of its fleet and home base. For continental Australia, with its huge area of surrounding oceans, this raises significant challenges in detecting that potential naval adversary’s warships and determining their intentions.
Fortunately, Australia has a number of systems and platforms available for this task. In addition to our own resources those of close allies – particularly the US – are also part of the mix.
One of the most important surveillance tools is the Jindalee Operational Radar Network (JORN) which operates in the HF band – and as a consequence has enormous range. It uses the ionosphere to refract radar signals, which can reach the surface of the earth and then bounce up again. This is why users of HF (Short Wave) radios can often hear transmissions from all over the planet.
Describing surveillance assets, Defence said: “Continuous surveillance of the waters north of Australia is conducted by the Jindalee Operational Radar Network (JORN) which comprises a control centre, known as the JORN Coordination Centre, at RAAF Base Edinburgh in South Australia and three transmission stations: Radar 1 near Longreach, Queensland, Radar 2 near Laverton, Western Australia and Radar 3 near Alice Springs, Northern Australia “JORN is part of a layered surveillance network that provides coverage of Australia’s northern approaches. It provides wide-area surveillance at ranges of 1,000 to 3,000 kilometres from the radar sites, and is used to monitor the air and sea in support of Australia’s national surveillance effort.