Funding for satellite intelligence capabilities

The Australian Government has announced a $500 million investment to improve Australia’s space-based intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities.
News Image
An artist's impression of one of the Pleiades satellites which provide 0.5 m high resolution image data for military and civil applications. Image: Defence/Digital Globe

The Australian Government has announced a $500 million investment to improve Australia’s space-based intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance 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.

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

“Defence’s enhanced access to these satellites will increase Australia’s capacity to maintain surveillance and improve situational awareness for the Australian Defence Force (ADF) and other national security agencies through the provision of high-quality imagery,” she 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 for Defence Industry Christopher Pyne said these contracting arrangements will provide improved value for money for the Australian Government when accessing commercial imagery.

“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,” he 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.  

The government 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.  

[An artist's impression of one of the Pleiades satellites which provide 0.5 m high resolution image data for military and civil applications. Image: Defence/Digital Globe]