Australia’s satellite capabilities get $500m investment

Australia's satellite capabilities get $500 million investment
Artist's impression of Pleiades satellite

The Turnbull government has announced a $500 million investment to improve Australia’s space-based intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities to support Australian Defence Force operations at home and around the world.

The $500 million investment will improve the Department of Defence's access to commercial satellites to provide information to government agencies.

Minister for Defence Marise Payne and Minister for Defence Industry Christopher Pyne said this information will be used to support Australia’s defence priorities, including defence operations, border protection and humanitarian missions.

Minister Payne said that Defence Project 799 was introduced in the 2016 Defence White Paper to enhance Australia’s geospatial-intelligence capabilities.

Phase 1 of the project will provide Australia with direct and more timely access to commercial imaging satellites to support a wide range of Defence and national security activities.

"Defence’s enhanced access to these satellites will increase Australia’s capacity to maintain surveillance and improve situational awareness for the Australian Defence Force and other national security agencies through the provision of high-quality imagery," Minister Payne said.

"This means imagery from high-end commercial satellites, now in orbit, will be integrated directly into the Australian Geospatial-Intelligence Organisation’s imagery dissemination systems, reducing the time it will take for satellite imagery to get to a member of the ADF or the officers of Australia’s national security agencies."

Minister Pyne said these contracting arrangements will provide improved value for money for the Australian government when accessing commercial imagery.

The minister also said the investment will immediately create 22 new jobs in Defence and industry across Australia in direct support of the establishment and maintenance of the capability, with many others created in the supply chain as the project matures.  

"The Turnbull government is committed to maximising Australian industry content, with this project forecasting over $144 million to be spent in Australia, creating jobs and generating economic growth," Minister Pyne said.

"Australian industry will benefit with around $14 million spent locally to build the ground infrastructure to collect imagery from commercial satellites."

A total of $130 million will be spent on support contracts over the 13-year life of the project, providing commercial opportunities for Australian companies – including in the Northern Territory and South Australia.  

This investment will also create opportunities for Australian companies interested in satellite technology and imagery analysis.

This latest investment in Australia's satellite capabilities comes after Minister Payne announced the extension of the Department of Defence’s C1 satellite partnership with Optus and after BAE Systems Australia secured a $30 million contract to deliver a major capability improvement to the Royal Australian Navy with the upgrade of maritime satellite communications terminals.

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