Spy chiefs to get $ 500m satel­lite link boost

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - NEWS -

HIGH-qual­ity images from com­mer­cial satel­lites will be beamed straight to Aus­tralia’s in­tel­li­gence au­thor­i­ties un­der a half-abil­lion-dol­lar plan to im­prove space-based sur­veil­lance.

The Sun­day Tele­graph can re­veal the Turn­bull gov­ern­ment will in­vest $500 mil­lion to speed up ac­cess to images cap­tured from satel­lites al­ready in or­bit.

The Aus­tralian De­fence Force and other na­tional se­cu­rity agen­cies will be able to use the data for sur­veil­lance op­er­a­tions in the re­gion, in­clud­ing bor­der se­cu­rity op­er­a­tions.

Other gov­ern­ment bod­ies will also have ac­cess to the images which will be used to mon­i­tor nat­u­ral dis­as­ters such as bush­fires and for hu­man­i­tar­ian mis­sions.

The De­fence White Pa­per was re­leased last year by the Turn­bull gov­ern­ment.

It stressed the im­por­tance of space in­tel­li­gence for Aus­tralia’s mil­i­tary over the next 20-year pe­riod.

Aus­tralia cur­rently re­lies on US satel­lites and com­mer­cial op­er­a­tors for in­for­ma­tion but has pre­vi­ously toyed with the idea of send­ing its own satel­lites into space. De­fence In­dus­try Min­is­ter Christo­pher Pyne said the new con­tract­ing ar­range­ments would pro­vide im­proved value for money for tax­pay­ers and cre­ate 22 new jobs.

At present the gov­ern­ment must wait for the op­er­a­tors of satel­lites to send images from the op­er­a­tor’s re­ceiv­ing sta­tions.

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