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Australia and the US have moved forward with shared satellite commitments, announcing they will work together on a joint defence satellite communications ground station at the Australian Defence Satellite Communications Station (ADSCS), Geraldton, Western Australia.

Construction at the site is expected to begin in the third quarter of 2008.

The ground station will be built to support the US Navy’s Mobile User Objective System, a satellite-based mobile phone network designed to provide support for US, Australian and allied military users.

The structure itself will comprise of three small buildings housing the electronic infrastructure, power and spares as well as three 18m satellite dishes and two antennae.

The ground station will be entirely unmanned, requiring only occasional contractor maintenance support.

The decision to further explore and enhance joint access to satellite communications between the nations was made official by the signing of a Satellite Communications Partnership Statement of Principles at the Australia – United States Ministerial Consultations in February 2008. The agreement is designed to further cooperation in satellite communications as well as encourage greater technical collaboration in the field.

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As part of this agreement the two countries are exploring the possibility of hosting a US Army Fixed Regional Hub Node on land adjacent to the ADSCS and are discussing opportunities for the joint use of this facility.

A press statement released by the Australian Department of Defence declared that satellite communications are vital to the Australian Defence Force and the security of the country:

“The US is a world leader in the field of commercial and military satellite communications technology and therefore it was logical to form an alliance that would provide Australia with increased access to US global communications capabilities as well as technical partnering, shared infrastructure and support services for our joint projects.”

By Daniel Garrun