US-Australian spy base in WA to boost military communications
Project will allow real-time communication for American and Australian military operations around the globe.
The US and Australia will jointly expand an Australian spy base in Western Australia that would allow real-time communication for US and Australian military operations.
The US Defence Information Systems Agency has published details of the plans, reported in The Australian, to construct an equipment building, antenna foundation and infrastructure at a base near Geraldton that would provide support for the system at an estimated cost of $9.6m.
The site would provide “real-time sideband satellite communications for military operations to all branches of the US armed services worldwide as well as Australian defence forces”.
“The DoD Teleport System at Geraldton will enable warfighters access to Defense Information Switched Network (DISN) services with command and control elements real time anywhere in the world,” the US documents said.
The agency has contracted Boeing Defence Australia to supply budget estimates and a site survey for the project.
The site would be located at a facility run by the Australian Signals Directorate at an Australian Defence Satellite communications station in Kojarena.
Richard Tanter, a senior research associate at the Nautilus Institute for Security and Sustainability, said the newly announced expansion would be the third expansion in the last five years at the Geraldton site, and made the facility “effectively a joint base”.
“Basically this is a small part of a much bigger story about Australia becoming a partner in the wideband global satellite system. Geraldton has expanded twice in the last five to six years.”
Tanter said the wideband global satellite system allows a much greater bandwidth for communications systems in military operations, and can be used to communicate with drones and facilitate faster communication in operations.
In November 2012 as part of the AUSMIN conference between the US and Australia, the then foreign affairs minister, Bob Carr, flagged the possibility of establishing a Combined Communications Gateway in Australia “which would provide both Australia and the United States greater access to the Wideband Global Satellite communications constellation in which we are partners”.