Australia enhances GEOINT capability through commercial satellites

Artist's impression of WorldView-4 satellite.
An artist’s impression of WorldView-4. (DigitalGlobe)

The federal government has announced that it is spending $500 million on enhancing space-based intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities by improving access to commercial satellites.

Minister for Defence Senator Marise Payne stated that Defence Project 799 was introduced in the 2016 Defence White Paper to enhance geospatial intelligence (GEOINT) capabilities. Phase 1 of the project will provide more timely access to commercial imaging satellites.

“Defence’s enhanced access to these satellites will increase Australia’s capacity to maintain surveillance and improve situational awareness for the Australian Defence Force and other national security agencies through the provision of high-quality imagery,” Minister Payne 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.”

The funding will create 22 new jobs in Defence and industry in Australia in direct support of the establishment and maintenance of the capability, with other jobs expected to be created in the supply chain as the project matures.

More than $144 million is anticipated to be spent in Australia, with about $14 million to be spent locally to build ground infrastructure.

A total of $130 million will be spent on support contracts over the 13-year life of the project, providing opportunities for companies in places such as the Northern Territory and South Australia.