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Marles says DSR will ‘increase importance’ of Space Command

Defence Minister Richard Marles has said the federal government’s DSR report would “increase the importance” of Space Command.

It follows the long-awaited review giving the organisation more autonomy over its funding and resourcing but ruling out making it a US-style Space Force equal to the Army, Navy and Air Force.

The DSR has been described as the biggest shake-up in Australia’s defence policy in decades and will result in $19 billion being spent to implement its immediate recommendations.

Speaking at the DSR Summit in Sydney hosted by Space Connect’s sister brand, Defence Connect Marles admitted the government was still “coy” about exactly how the new system would work.


“The DSR talks about the need for us to have capability in all five domains: land, sea, air, but also cyber and space,” he said on stage.

“It’s the expression of military activity across five domains, not three.

“From there, the DSR was very thoughtful about the need for us to be operating in a much more integrated way.

“That’s a comment about a whole of government [approach], engaging all elements of statecraft in the way in which we go about our engagement with the world and thinking about defence in the context of how we do our diplomacy.


“It’s also a comment about having a much more joined-up Defence Force.”

The report — penned by former defence minister Stephen Smith and former defence chief Sir Angus Houston — also said a method should be established for building and sustaining a trained Defence space workforce, including a defined career path.

The Australian Defence Force’s Space Command — currently a division of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) — commenced operations in March last year.

Air Vice-Marshal Catherine Roberts, AM, CSC, was appointed as its inaugural commander.

Among the responsibilities of Space Command is supporting space domain awareness, sovereign-controlled satellite communications, and space-based Earth observation and navigation.

The division includes personnel from all three services, as well as public servants and industry contractors.

The news of an upgrade for Space Command comes weeks after it was announced that Lockheed Martin had won the $3 billion JP 9102 government contract to deliver a new military satellite communication capability for Australia.

The global prime beat off competition from other major contractors, including BoeingNorthrop Grumman Australia, and Optus.

The deal is arguably the most significant in the history of Australia’s space sector, with its goal of reducing the country’s reliance on the United States and its military assets.

Lockheed Martin’s position as “preferred tenderer” means it will now progress to the next stage of the Defence procurement process, which includes engaging in collaborative tender clarification and improvement activities.

Head of Air Defence and Space Systems Division, Air Vice-Marshal David Scheul, said the multi-billion-dollar project would deliver Australia’s first sovereign-controlled satellite communication system over the Indo-Pacific regions. 

“Currently across Defence, there is up to 89 capabilities which depend on satellite communications,” AVM Scheul said.

“Once delivered, the new system will increase the resilience, agility and flexibility of Defence’s military satellite capability.”

Adam Thorn

Adam Thorn

Adam is a journalist who has worked for more than 40 prestigious media brands in the UK and Australia. Since 2005, his varied career has included stints as a reporter, copy editor, feature writer and editor for publications as diverse as Fleet Street newspaper The Sunday Times, fashion bible Jones, media and marketing website Mumbrella as well as lifestyle magazines such as GQ, Woman’s Weekly, Men’s Health and Loaded. He joined Momentum Media in early 2020 and currently writes for Australian Aviation and World of Aviation.

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