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Defence Space Command moves to Joint Capabilities Group

The Space Surveillance Telescope (SST) at the Harold E. Holt Naval Communication Station near Exmouth, Western Australia (above) and the C-Band Radar (top). Images: Defence

Australia’s Defence Space Command moved from the Royal Australian Air Force to the Joint Capabilities Group (JCG) on 1 July as part of the Australian Government’s response to the Defence Strategic Review (DSR). Additionally, No. 1 Space Surveillance Unit (1SSU) has assumed operation of Defence’s Space Domain Awareness (SDA) capabilities.

Chief of Joint Capabilities LTGEN John Frewen said the DSR identified an urgent requirement for greater coherence in cyber, military information operations and space. The amalgamation of these elements into JCG will improve capability development, management and delivery of integrated effects.

“Space is a critical element of the integrated force for every ADF operation, deployed and at home – from satellite communications, precision guided weapons, situational awareness in the battlespace, and position, navigation and timing,” he said. “As our newest domains, the space and cyber domains have similar workforce challenges with new and unique career pathways. This is our opportunity to develop strong, resilient and fit-for-purpose workforces in these emerging domains.”

Established in January this year at RAAF Base Edinburgh, 1SSU has taken over the C-Band Radar and Space Surveillance Telescope (SST) as its key SDA operational capabilities. It will have initial support from No. 1 Remote Sensor Unit (1RSU) which also operates Australia’s portfolio of High Frequency over the horizon surveillance radars at Laverton, Alice Springs and Longreach.

Defence Space Commander Air Vice Marshal Cath Roberts said as the first dedicated Joint Space Unit, 1SSU will provide space domain awareness effects and missile warning in support of integrated and coalition forces.

“Space domain awareness is critical for supporting Australia’s national security interests, as it allows us to monitor activities in space, detect and respond to potential threats and protect our satellites in space,” she said.

Located in Exmouth, Western Australia, the C-Band Radar and SST are joint initiatives of the United States Space Force and the ADF. The SST is an electro-optical sensor that surveys the night skies, detecting and cataloguing objects in geosynchronous orbit more than 30,000km above the Earth, where many essential telecommunication and military satellites reside.

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