defence connect logo



We know what’s in, but what’s out? Assessing the reprioritisations and the ‘cuts’ of the IIP and NDS (Part 4)

Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister, Richard Marles with CDF, General Angus Campbell AO, DSC and Secretary of the Department of Defence Greg Moriarty meeting with AUKUS counterparts in Washington DC (Source: Defence)

In the era of information-driven conflict, linking together the system of systems that the modern defence apparatus has become is as important as kinetic effectors, something the National Defence Strategy and 2024 Integrated Investment Program seem to recognise and appropriately fund, or do they?

In the era of information-driven conflict, linking together the system of systems that the modern defence apparatus has become is as important as kinetic effectors, something the National Defence Strategy and 2024 Integrated Investment Program seem to recognise and appropriately fund, or do they?

We are nearly there, I promise! One more to go after this, I promise.

In recent years, the space and cyber domains have gained increased emphasis from both allies and adversaries alike. These critical domains have increasingly been recognised as critical to a nation’s security, prosperity, and warfighting capabilities for this new era of multipolarity.


For many, the often esoteric and non-kinetic nature of the domains of cyber and space means such capabilities are often overlooked.

Yet, these domains are set to play an increasingly important role in the future make-up and capability of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) and the expansion of Australia’s defence industrial base and technologically advanced economy in this era of competitive geopolitical tensions.

Interestingly though, for Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Richard Marles, space as a warfighting domain, in particular, was noticeably absent in his address to the National Press Club. The same can’t be said for cyber, with Minister Marles mentioning it three times during his speech.

Importantly, Minister Marles stated, “Cyber is now a critical domain of conflict. Through both the ADF and the Australian Signals Directorate, Australia genuinely punches above our weight in this domain. A further commitment of $15–20 billion over the decade will ensure that Australia builds this capability, such that we remain at the forefront of developments in the cyber domain.”

But as I have asked a number of times in the previous incarnations of this analysis series, how much of what is proposed for both the space and cyber domains is “new”, how much has been “baked in” under previous plans, and how much is actually committed funding for the next decade?

The ultimate high ground

While programs like Ronald Reagan’s “Star Wars” Strategic Defense Initiative may have popularised the idea of warfare in space (at least if jokingly), the reality of the 21st century is that any peer or near-peer kinetic conflict, no matter how contained, will inevitably involve conflict in space.

Working our way backwards from the 2024 National Defence Strategy (NDS) and 2024 Integrated Investment Program (IIP), the government has allocated $27–36 billion in total to “enhance space and cyber capabilities” over the next decade, of which $590 million is “approved planned investment” across secure satellite communications, space sensors, and space control capabilities.

Interestingly, at the lowest level, space has approximately $8.3 billion in total sitting in the “unapproved planned spending” category, with at the top end, spending in space valued at approximately $11.4 billion in the “unapproved planned spending” across the same areas, or in a more succinct manner, the government stated it will invest “$9‑$12 billion in enhanced space capabilities”.

As part of this funding, the government will continue with the delivery of the sovereign‑controlled Australian Defence Satellite Communications (SATCOM) system capability over the Indo‑Pacific that includes a constellation of communications satellites, ground stations, and an integrated SATCOM management system to be delivered by Lockheed Martin Australia under JP 9102 which was first announced as part of the 2016 Defence white paper and 2016 Integrated Investment Program.

This commitment was subsequently reinforced in the 2020 Defence Strategic Update (DSU) and 2020 Force Structure Plan (FSP) respectively, which earmarked approximately $7 billion “in space capabilities over the next decade, which includes investment in sovereign-controlled satellites” to provide as the 2020 FSP articulated, “Satellite communications and position, navigation and timing data are essential for the command and control of deployed forces”.

Shifting back to the 2024 IIP, we again see the introduction and continuation of the Deep‑space Advanced Radar Capability (DARC), in partnership with the United States and the United Kingdom, again something first announced in the 2016 Defence white Paper and 2016 Integrated Investment Program, respectively, then subsequently reinforced and recommitted to under the 2020 DSU (DSU) and 2020 FSP.

The costs associated with supporting the DARC capability will ultimately have a detrimental impact on the JP 9360 ground-based space domain awareness program, thus having a significant impact on Australia’s own sovereign defence space industry and civilian space sector that sought to utilise the opportunities proposed by closer collaboration between Defence and the Australian Space Agency.

The 2020 FSP stated, “Defence currently hosts a United States C-Band Radar and Space Surveillance Telescope and will continue to build our space domain awareness capabilities with the United States and other key partners into the future. To ensure that we can take full advantage of the large volumes of information that will be developed, the government is also investing in growing the intelligence and supporting workforce.”

Finally, in addition to this, the 2024 IIP articulated that government will commit investments to, “enhance Defence’s space control capability to deny attempts to interfere with, or attack, Australia’s use of the space domain. These will help ensure the ADF is able to continue using the space capabilities it needs to support its operations”.

This statement is exceedingly similar to a comment made in the 2020 FSPP, which stated, “The government’s plans include the development of options to enhance ADF space control through capabilities to counter emerging space threats to Australia’s free use of the space domain and that assure our continued access to space-based intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.”

Perhaps most interestingly though, is the figure of $9–$13.4 billion for “key space domain investments” identified as part of the 2020 FSP and DSU, respectively, which includes the initial satellite communications investment ($4.6–$6.9 billion) and ongoing satellite communications assurance ($1.7–$2.5 billion), terrestrial operations in “contested space” ($1.4-¢2 billion), and space situational awareness ($1.3-$2 billion) in spending from 2020–35.

So on the pure figures sense, it appears as though Australia’s defence space capabilities have fallen victim to some of the broader “reprioritisation” or could it perhaps be considered a cut in real terms?

Securing the cyber front

Our lives are increasingly shaped by our engagement with the cyber and online environment and in the era of fifth-generation, information and network-centric warfare, the cyber domain is the nerve system that connects our disparate system-of-systems “focused force” Australian Defence Force.

Again, beginning with the 2024 NDS and 2024 IIP and working our way back, the government stated that it will invest $15–$20 billion over the next decade to enhance Australia’s cyber domain capabilities with an emphasis on developing both defensive and offensive capacities to “impose costs on malicious cyber activity in an increasingly contested cyber domain”.

Of this figure, only $3.3 billion is “approved planned investment” for cyber capabilities and cyber terrain, with $12–$17 billion in the “unapproved planned investment” category for the nation’s cyber capabilities.

This includes continued investments to ensure and provide “greater visibility of threats to critical infrastructure, increase the resilience of our infrastructure to cyber attacks, provide new intelligence functions and enable offensive cyber operations” as part of the core functions of Defence and the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD).

Importantly, this continued investment sees a continuation of REDSPICE, Australia’s largest investment in “signals intelligence and cyber capability” announced as part of a $10 billion budget by the former government, in 2022, with the project described by then defence minister Peter Dutton as “Project REDSPICE – Resilience, Effects, Defence, Space, Intelligence, Cyber, and Enablers – is the largest ever investment in the capabilities of the ASD. REDSPICE will substantially increase ASD’s offensive cyber capabilities, its ability to detect and respond to cyber attacks, and introduce new intelligence capabilities. It will also create over 1,900 new jobs, almost doubling the ASD’s size.”

This investment comes off the back of what is described in the 2020 DSU and 2020 FSP as a $15 billion investment in the nation’s cyber domain capabilities, with the 2016 Defence white paper and 2016 IIP providing only vague mention of “enhancing cyber capabilities”.

In addition to these continued investments, the 2024 IIP emphasises critical investments in deployable defensive cyber capabilities, alongside a “comprehensive training program to support the growth of the ADF cyber workforce”, while also supporting Defence’s capacity to understand and operate in the “cyber terrain”.

This final key development is designed to improve Australian warfighting capabilities with key partners like the United States and the United Kingdom, both traditional and those in the cyber domain, along with supporting the development of joint warfighting networks and “applications” designed to improve access for ADF forces operating in cyber denied or constrained environments.

Again, as with the space domain environment, it is not clear how the money proposed in the 2024 NDS and IIP qualifies as “new” money or additional money beyond what had been previously earmarked for the ADF’s cyber capabilities.

In the next part of this series, I will take a closer look at the future of Defence’s basing logistics as projected and outlined in the 2024 NDS and IIP and how it compares to previous incarnations of the Integrated Investment Program and respective Defence strategic updates and force structure plans.

Get involved with the discussion and let us know your thoughts on Australia’s future role and position in the Indo-Pacific region and what you would like to see from Australia’s political leaders in terms of partisan and bipartisan agenda setting in the comments section below, or get in touch at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

You need to be a member to post comments. Become a member for free today!