US to put radar and telescope in Australia

US to put radar and telescope in Australia

PERTH, Australia - Agence France-Presse
The United States military will station powerful radar and a space telescope in Australia as part of its strategic shift towards Asia, the two countries announced yesterday.

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta described the deal as a “major leap forward in bilateral space cooperation and an important new frontier in the United States’ rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region.” The transfer of the C-band radar “will add considerably to surveillance of space debris in our part of the world,” Australian Defense Minister Stephen Smith told a news conference. At the meeting of foreign and defense ministers in the western Australian city of Perth, the two governments also launched discussions on granting the Americans future access to air bases in northern Australia as well as naval ports, including one in nearby Stirling, Smith said.

The plan, unveiled at annual strategic talks between the two nations, calls for the first deployment of a U.S. Air Force C-band radar in the Southern Hemisphere, allowing the Americans to better track space debris well as Chinese space launches, senior U.S. defense officials said.

“It will give us visibility into things that are leaving the atmosphere, entering the atmosphere, really all throughout Asia,” including China’s rocket and missile tests, a U.S. defense official told reporters on condition of anonymity.

Anxious over China’s growing military might and territorial tensions with its neighbors, U.S. officials are pushing for a more visible military role across the region. This includes expanding military exercises and deploying more advanced ships and hardware, particularly in Southeast Asia.