Australia and the United States are deepening ties on space, agreeing on Saturday to add the domain to the nations’ military alliance. The addition means Australian and US forces will take part in new joint training and further integrate technologies.
At the Australia-United States Ministerial Consultations (AUSMIN) on the weekend, ‘Enhanced Space Cooperation’ was announced as a new Force Posture Initiative.
At the AUSMI talks in Brisbane attended by Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong and Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Richard Marles, the nations also agreed to collaborate more on missiles and cyberspace.
Space joins existing Force Posture Initiatives for Marine, Maritime, Logistics and Sustainment, Air, and Land that have been agreed to since 2011.
“[AUSMIN Principals] declared Enhanced Space Cooperation as a new Force Posture Initiative to enable closer cooperation in this critical operational domain,” a joint statement from Australian and US governments said.
The leaders also signalled an intent to increase space integration and cooperation in existing operations and exercises.
The recent Defence Strategic Review found Australia’s defence space capability needs to be optimised despite a $7 billion investment in 2021 that helped establish a Defence Space Command within the Royal Australian Air Force.
The review, released in April, said the cost of Australia’s sovereign space capability needs could be offset by collaborating with the US and other partners.
In May, the two allies agreed in principle to a long-negotiated technology sharing agreement that will allow the controlled transfer of sensitive US launch technology and data to Australia, including the commercial sector.
In the civil sector, Australia is also supplying the US-led Artemis mission with a lunar rover, which will collect lunar soil from the Moon and deliver it to a NASA payload.
But Saturday’s progress on Space defence comes with the commercial sector still angered by the Australian government’s decision to scrap a $1 billion Earth observation mission and several other industry programs.
Saturday’s AUSMIN meetings also included an agreement to further cooperate on Australia’s plan to manufacture and export missiles, with a new focus on “the potential for co-production of Guided Multiple Launch Rocket Systems by 2025”.
The Albanese government wants concrete, costed plans for consideration by mid-2024 for its accelerated missile manufacturing.
The talks also saw the nations commit to “hold to account” perpetrator of “unacceptable behaviour in cyberspace” after expressing concern about the increasing scale and severity of attacks.
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