The Australian military’s new Space Command will formally begin operating on Tuesday, with Defence Minister Peter Dutton flagging a possible US-style Space Force in the future.
- The Australian Defence Force is launching its space division
- Peter Dutton says Australia will one day need a military presence in space
- Russia recently confirmed it attacked Ukraine with a hypersonic missile, which was launched into space
In a speech to the Air and Space Power Conference on Tuesday, Peter Dutton will warn “space is becoming more congested and is already contested” with Russia and China developing hypersonic missiles capable of travelling faster than 6,000 kilometres per hour.
Twelve months ago, the Royal Australian Air Force confirmed plans to follow other nations by establishing a new military Space Command, which is now officially beginning operations.
While acknowledging the new Space Command is “modest” compared to similar, well-established bodies operated by Australia’s allies, including the US Space Force established by Donald Trump in 2019, Mr Dutton will argue it is a “necessary endeavour with a view to protecting our national interests and our need for a Space Force in the future”.
Space Command, which is headed by Air Vice-Marshal Cath Roberts, comprises personnel from the three armed services, Defence public servants, and industry contractors, working alongside the Australian Space Agency.
“Together with like-minded partners and the United Nations, Australia has long championed the responsible and peaceful use of outer space in accordance with international norms,” Mr Dutton will tell the industry conference in Canberra.
According to remarks distributed ahead of his speech, Mr Dutton will discuss the “growing importance” of hypersonic missiles (missiles which are initially launched into space) as well as space-based satellite communications, in future warfare.
“While space is primarily a civil domain — to support navigation, communication networks, financial systems, scientific enterprises, weather forecasting, and disaster response — it will undoubtedly become a domain which takes on greater military significance in the 21st century,” Mr Dutton will say during his keynote address.
“Russia and China are already developing hypersonic missiles which can travel at more than 6,000 kilometres per hour.”
Just last week Russia announced it had used its latest hypersonic missile for the first time in combat, during its invasion of Ukraine.
In a separate speech in Sydney on Tuesday, Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews will confirm Australian intelligence agencies have been closely monitoring Russia’s involvement in malicious cyber security incidents that are occurring as a result of the invasion of Ukraine.
“Following Russian aggression against Ukraine, it is a sad reality that there is a heightened cyber threat environment globally, and the risk of cyber attacks on Australian networks, either directly or inadvertently, has increased,” Ms Andrews will say.