Could Cape York play a role in Australia’s newest defence program?
Last week, it was announced that Australia is assembling a new space division comprising military officers from the army, navy and air force to better protect satellites from attack.
The space division will be established within the Royal Australian Air Force headquarters in Canberra early next year.
It may pave a way for RAAF Base Scherger to be a tactical site for future programs.
The chief of the air force, Mel Hupfeld, said guaranteeing access to the “contested domain” of space was becoming increasingly important.
“However, this does not mean that defence encourages the militarisation of space,” Air Marshal Hupfeld said.
“All space operations are conducted consistent with international and domestic legal obligations.”
Defence will invest $7 billion in space capabilities over the next 10 years.
The shadow treasurer, Jim Chalmers, confirmed Labor supported the additional spending.
“Clearly our defence force needs to maintain capability and clearly the definition of capability changes very rapidly when it comes to defence,” he said.
“There are new frontiers in defence technology all of the time, and any country like ours investing so heavily in our defence needs to keep up with those developments and ideally get ahead of them.
“If the developments in technology require us to invest in those areas then so be it.”
Air Marshal Hupfeld said satellite technologies were used daily to gather information about the weather, navigation and geospatial intelligence.
“Defence is delivering capabilities including space domain awareness, sovereign controlled satellite communications and space-based Earth observation, and navigation,” he said.
Air Vice-Marshal Cath Roberts will head the new division.
“To reach for the stars and actually get there is a phenomenal feeling,” she said.
“As an aerospace engineer I have always been fascinated by space – the ultimate highground.”
This article appeared in Cape York Weekly, 24 May 2021.