The Royal Australian Air Force’s new space division has today commenced operation, with managing hypersonic threats and enhancing space-powered ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance) capabilities to be among its core responsibilities.
The Australian Defence Force’s Space Command — a new division of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) — has today (22 March) commenced operations., with Minister for Defence Peter Dutton marking the occasion with an address to the Air and Space power Conference.
The establishment of Defence Space Command was first announced in May last year, with Air Vice-Marshal Catherine Roberts, AM, CSC assuming her role as head of the division in January.
The division includes personnel from all three Services, as well as public servants, and industry contractors.
Defence Space Command is expected to work alongside the Australian Space Agency, industry partners, and research and scientific institutions.
Among the responsibilities of Space Command will be supporting space domain awareness, sovereign controlled satellite communications and space-based Earth observation, and navigation.
In his address, Minister Dutton added that monitoring hypersonic threats would also form a key part of the division’s mission, pointing to the recent ramp up in hypersonic missile activity from China and Russia.
The minister described the creation of the Space Command as a “necessary endeavour” for the protection of Australia’s interests.
“Both Russia and China are already developing hypersonic missiles which can travel at more than 6,000 kilometres per hour,” he said.
“Together with like-minded partners and the United Nations, Australia has long championed the responsible and peaceful use of outer space in accordance with international norms,” Dutton said.
Minister Dutton also outlined initiatives to bolster space collaboration with the United States as part of a newly released Defence Space Strategy.
This involves teaming up with the US National Reconnaissance Office to ramp up cooperative satellite activities.
“Our partnership will also contribute to the US National Reconnaissance Office’s pursuit of a more capable, integrated, and resilient space architecture to support global coverage in a wide range of intelligence mission requirements,” the minister added.
The launch of Defence Space Command forms part of the Commonwealth government’s broader $7 billion investment in space capabilities over the next 10 years.
Charbel Kadib – Defence Connect
News Editor – Defence and Security, Momentum Media