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US, UK, Australia Collaborate on Deep Space Radar Initiative for Enhanced Space Domain Awareness
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US, UK, Australia Collaborate on Deep Space Radar Initiative for Enhanced Space Domain Awareness
by Clarence Oxford
Los Angeles CA (SPX) Dec 07, 2023

The United States, United Kingdom, and Australia have jointly unveiled a significant trilateral initiative known as the Deep Space Advanced Radar Capability (DARC). This collaboration aims to bolster space domain awareness by providing 24/7, all-weather capabilities to detect, track, identify, and characterize objects in deep space. The memorandum of understanding (MOU) underpinning this project, signed in September, outlines a substantial commitment spanning 22 years.

DARC leverages the geographical advantages of the three participating nations to enhance collective space domain awareness. This capability is fundamental for responsible space operations and is crucial for responding to both routine and potentially hostile activities in space. Dr. John Plumb, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense for Space Policy, emphasized the importance of DARC, stating, "Space domain awareness is foundational to responsible space operations, and it is essential for responding to activity in space, whether that activity is routine or hostile."

The DARC initiative promises several advantages over existing radar systems that track objects in Geosynchronous Earth Orbit (GEO). It boasts higher sensitivity, better accuracy, increased capacity, and more agile tracking capabilities. Notably, DARC's ability to provide global monitoring is not hampered by inclement weather or daylight, unlike current ground-based optical systems. This comprehensive capability will play a pivotal role in safeguarding essential services reliant on satellites, including everyday aspects of modern life such as mobile phones and TV.

U.S. Chief of Space Operations Gen. Chance Saltzman underscored the necessity of advanced capabilities in the increasingly contested space environment, stating, "As the world becomes more contested and the danger of space warfare increases, the U.K. and our allies must ensure we have the advanced capabilities we need to keep our nations safe."

The geographical distribution of DARC sites, strategically chosen after site surveys in the U.S., U.K., and Australia, ensures full coverage of the GEO. Lt. Gen. John Frewen, Chief of Joint Capabilities in Australia, explained, "From its Australian site, the DARC will integrate with other DARC sites in the United States and the United Kingdom. This will provide a space domain awareness capability to deter nations from undertaking activities that are against Australia's interests by providing continuous global detection and observation of satellites in space."

This initiative has been accelerated by the AUKUS partnership, which aims to enhance interoperability among the three nations. U.K. Defense Secretary Grant Shapps affirmed the importance of the global radar network, stating, "This announcement of a global radar network (DARC), based across the U.K., U.S., and Australia, will do just that, empowering the U.K. to detect, track, and identify objects in deep space."

The collaborative effort between the U.S., U.K., and Australia is poised to fortify space security and enhance the ability to monitor and respond to activities in the rapidly evolving space domain. All three DARC sites are expected to become operational by the end of the decade.

In summary, the Deep Space Advanced Radar Capability (DARC) initiative, formed through the partnership of the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia, represents a significant step forward in enhancing space domain awareness and securing vital space-based services for the future. This trilateral effort underscores the commitment of these nations to safeguarding their interests in an increasingly contested space environment.

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