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US to deploy key space systems in Australia

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An unrelated image of a radar station. A USAF photo

PERTH, AUSTRALIA (BNS): To bolster its strategic presence in the Asia-Pacific region, the US will deploy two key space systems in Australia.

The announcement came on Wednesday during a meeting of US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta with Australian Defence Minister Stephen Smith at Perth.

The first system to be deployed in Western Australia by 2014 will be an Air Force C-band space-surveillance radar, presently stationed in Antigua, West Indies.

The ground-based radar will track space assets and debris in low earth orbit, increase the security of space-based systems and increase coverage of space objects in the Southern Hemisphere, the US Defence Department said in a statement.

The system will provide a critical dedicated sensor for the US space surveillance network and would also help in tracking "high-interest" space launches from Asia.

The other system to be stationed in Australia is an advanced US space surveillance telescope designed and built by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

The system will help to leverage space surveillance capabilities for both nations, officials said.

The two countries are also discussing establishing a combined communications gateway in Western Australia which would give operators in both nations access to wideband global satellite communications satellites.

"All of that represents a major leap forward in bilateral space cooperation and an important new frontier in the United States' rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region," Panetta said during a news conference after a series of meetings during the 2012 Australia-United States Ministerial Consultations.

The US signed a new defence pact with Australia in November 2011 and sent 250 Marine forces to be stationed there. The contingent was the first batch of 2,500 US troops which would eventually be deployed in Northern Australia by 2017 as part of the deal.

The new security pact came in the wake of China's rapid rise as a global economic and military power and its increasing assertiveness over vast stretches of the strategically-important South China Sea and East China Sea.

Washington has announced its plans to bring in more troops and high-tech weapons along with the bulk of its naval fleet to the Pacific by 2020 to project American power in the region.

Tags:

US  Australia  Radar  Space  Telescope   Defence  
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