x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

US and Australia agree on site for new radar station

The United States military will station a powerful radar and a space telescope in Australia as part of its strategic shift towards Asia.

PERTH // The United States military will station a powerful radar and a space telescope in Australia as part of its strategic shift towards Asia, the two countries said yesterday.

Leon Panetta, the US defence secretary, said the deal was a "major leap forward in bilateral space cooperation and an important new frontier in the United States' rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region".

The transfer of the C-band radar "will add considerably to surveillance of space debris in our part of the world", said the Australian defence minister, Stephen Smith.

The plan, unveiled at annual strategic talks between the two nations, calls for the first deployment of a US air force C-band radar in the Southern Hemisphere, allowing the Americans to improve the tracking of space debris and Chinese space launches.

"It will give us visibility into things that are leaving the atmosphere, entering the atmosphere, really all throughout Asia," including China's rocket and missile tests, a US defence official said.

At the meeting of foreign and defence ministers in Perth, the two governments also launched discussions on granting the Americans future access to airbases in northern Australia.

They may also get naval access, including to the Indian Ocean base HMAS Stirling, Mr Smith said.