The expected deployment by the US of a powerful radar in western Australia is preparation for a future space war with China, according to an arms control expert at a Beijing-based government institute.
The US Air Force will build a C-band ground-based radar system at the Harold E Holt Naval Communications Base in the town of Exmouth in Western Australia pursuant to an understanding reached following a Nov. 14 security conference in Perth attended by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and their Australian counterparts Robert Carr and Stephen Smith. C-band military radars are used for long-range tracking, especially through cloud cover and weather systems.
Smith also announced that the US Space Surveillance Telescope currently based in New Mexico will be moved to an undisclosed location in Western Australia.
Existing access to the Pine Gap satellite tracking facility near Alice Springs in the center of Australia already gives the US the capability to monitor strategic developments of China, Russia and Middle East through its satellites. The new radar base in Australia will let the US closely monitor movements of China’s Shenzhou spacecrafts from a few moments after launch, according to Teng Jianqun, director of the Center for Arms Control and International Security Studies at the China Institute of International Studies in Beijing.
Australia occupies a position in the Southern Hemisphere like the one Japan does in the Northern hemisphere — a trusted ally that can host major US bases in the Western Pacific to help contain China’s growing influence, Teng told China Network Television. He added that these Australian bases are a part of US preparations for potential space warfare with China.
“Most of that focus is around Alice Springs at Pine Gap, but [the planned new radar station] is part of virtually a permanent United States intelligence presence inside Australia, which monitors large parts of the Asia-Pacific,” said Michael McGinley of Australian National University in Canberra. “So it is not radically new, but it has the potential to be another item of friction in the relationship with China.”