Entries Tagged as 'Australia'

Revealed: US flew spy drone missions from Australia

ABC News
By Mark Corcoran
September 4, 2012

The United States flew highly classified Global Hawk spy drone missions from the Royal Australian Air Force base at Edinburgh in South Australia from late 2001 until at least 2006.

The operations were detected by a group of Adelaide aviation historians who had a member monitoring aircraft radio frequencies 20 hours a day.

With a wingspan greater than a 737 airliner and a $200 million price tag, the RQ-4 Global Hawk is the biggest, most expensive unmanned aerial vehicle to ever take to the skies.

The spy drone is the jewel in the crown of America’s global electronic intelligence-gathering network. Global Hawk operations are cloaked in secrecy, and the US Air Force likes to keep it that way.

But perhaps the Pentagon severely underestimated the vigilance of Adelaide aviation historians the West Beach Aviation Group (WBAG).

WBAG members have told ABC’s Foreign Correspondent that they monitored the flights until Australian defence security officials paid them a visit and demanded they not publish material revealing the presence of the Global Hawks.

“[The Global Hawks] usually approached and departed at night, although there were a few exceptions – and then they were photographed by the group,” WBAG spokesman Paul Daw said.

“But there were sensitivities. A photographer (from the group) was visited unannounced by Australian military security and questioned for putting movements onto an international web site.

“They claimed he showed vulnerabilities of the base.” …

Read on: www.abc.net.au/news/2012-09-03/revealed-us-flew-drone-missions-from-australia/4236306

Watch related newscast: www.abc.net.au/lateline/content/2012/s3582753.htm

Jets roar over Pacific skies as US military gathers allies in drills, to keep ahead of China

Washington Post
By Associated Press
February 8, 2013

ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam — Fighter jets from the U.S. and two key allies roared into western Pacific skies in the combat phase of annual exercises that have gained importance as the region responds to the rise of China and other potential threats.

The Cope North drills — which could soon swell in participants — are aimed at preparing air forces of the U.S., Japan and Australia to fight together if a military crisis erupts. They also send a vivid reminder to Beijing that America’s regional alliances are strong, though officers leading the maneuvers say they are not looking to bait the Chinese military.

“The training is not against a specific country, like China,” Japan Air Self-Defense Force Lt. Gen. Masayuki Hironaka said. “However, I think (the fact) that our alliance with the U.S. and Australia is healthy is a strong message.”

The three allies began flying sorties together earlier in the week around the U.S. territory of Guam in a humanitarian phase of the exercises, dropping emergency assistance in packages that wafted down under parachutes to jungle airfields. On Thursday, fighter jets were joined by bombers, transport planes and tankers that refuel the fighters in midair. For the first time, Japanese tankers were joining the drills. …

Read on: www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/jets-roar-over-pacific-skies-as-us-military-gathers-allies-in-drills-to-keep-ahead-of-china/2013/02/07/6628192e-7193-11e2-b3f3-b263d708ca37_story.html

New Agreement Will Expand US Military Presence in Australia

Fox News
November 16, 2011

President Obama insisted Wednesday that the United States does not fear China, even as U.S. officials acknowledged that a rising China is part of the reason for a new U.S.-Australia security pact created in response to Beijing’s growing aggressiveness.

The plan is to have a Marine, air and ground task force using Australian facilities to act as a “force multiplier” in the region. No new U.S. bases will be built. Marines will rotate into and out of the region, building up slowly from 250. After the buildup is complete, they will total some 2,500.

The number and frequency of U.S. aircraft using Australian air bases will increase and more bases will be in use. …

Read on: www.foxnews.com/politics/2011/11/16/new-agreement-will-expand-us-military-presence-in-australia

Plan for US soldiers to use Australian bases

September 12, 2011

Federal Defence Minister Stephen Smith says a decision to let more US troops use Aussie defence bases is pending.

A plan for more US soldiers to use Australian bases will be the biggest change to the Australian-US alliance for decades, Defence Minister Stephen Smith says.

The proposals for more soldiers to use Australian facilities for training and visits are part of a plan to enhance the relationship between the countries.

Last year, Smith ruled out stationing US soldiers in Australia, although troops have had regular training at bases, mostly in Queensland and the Northern Territory, for some time. …

“… no decisions have been made.”

Mr Smith said the issue would be discussed at the 2011 AUSMIN meeting in the US next week.

Read more: www.ntnews.com.au/article/2011/09/12/259801_ntnews.html

US military partnership in ‘national interest’

ABC Online
November 7, 2010

Defence Minister Stephen Smith discusses Australia’s role in Afghanistan and the strengthening of military ties with the US.

STEPHEN SMITH: … the NATO ISAF summit in Lisbon later this month will be dealing very directly with the transition in Afghanistan.

So we’re obviously part of the 47 country international security assistance force. Everyone has agreed we have got to transition to Afghanistan security competence and responsibility. And so Lisbon is a very important both NATO and ISAF summit to start mapping out the transition to Afghan responsibility.

We continue to be of the view that we can do our bit, our job in Oruzgan on the next two to four years training the Afghan National Army and police in Oruzgan province. …

we’ll be saying to the rest of the international community that we are committed to transitioning to Afghan-led security in Afghanistan, that whilst we can’t leave tomorrow, we can’t be there forever.

So we have to train the Afghan National Army, the Afghan national police and the local police forces to be in a position to manage security arrangements themselves.

And this is the strategy and the approach that we have outlined.

BARRIE CASSIDY: Not there forever but you will be there for at least 10 years?

STEPHEN SMITH: Well our current training mission we see being done in two to four years which is consistent with the timetable set by the Afghanistan conference in Kabul earlier this year.

But after that we do envisage the capacity for us to be there in some oversight or embed capacity. Time will tell what the detail and circumstances of that are. …

the United States is conducting what’s called a force posture review, looking at how it positions its forces throughout the world.

It has bases in other countries – Japan for example. It has a presence in the Republic of Korea. And in Australia, of course, we have joint facilities.

So in the course of the United States considering its force posture review, the possibility arises that the United States could utilise more Australia. And that’s very high on the agenda for AUSMIN today. …

… the United States is a significant power. It conducts strategic reviews from time to time as we do. And so you look to the future.

But it’s also making changes to the disposition of its forces throughout the Asia-Pacific, reducing, for example, the number of forces it has in Japan. So it’s looking at those matters.

But we welcome it very much because we want to see the United States engaged in the Asia-Pacific. That’s very important to Australia. It’s very important to stability in our region. We’ve had that stability since the end of World War II, largely as a result of United States presence.

So an enhanced engagement is something we very strongly support, whether that’s, for example, through the United States joining an expanded East Asia Summit or the United States taking part, as Australia did, in the ASEAN Plus defence ministers’ meeting.

All of these things are unambiguously good things for our region and also for Australia.

It’s certainly in our national interest to be very positively disposed to enhancing our engagement in that military and defence cooperation sense.

View a video of this interview or read the transcript here: