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Tuesday, 17 February 1987
Page: 1

(Question No. 704)

Senator Bolkus asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice, on 27 November 1985:

(1) Is the Minister for Defence aware of SCD Regulation 23-6, issued by the US Department of the Air Force, Headquarters Strategic Communications Division, Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, on 10 July 1981, which directs that the 1970th Communications Squadron be responsible for supervision of a Satellite Readout Station and a Satellite Communications Terminal at Woomera Air Station, Australia.

(2) Is the 1970th Communications Squadron still the formal designation of this unit, and does it still have this responsibility.

(3) How many personnel are employed in the Satellite Readout Station at Woomera, and how many of these are (a) US personnel (military and civilian); and (b) Australian personnel.

(4) What is the relationship between 1970th Communications Squadron and 5 Defence Space Communications Squadron at Woomera Air Station.

(5) Has the satellite ground station at Nurrungar recently been upgraded to make it compatible with satellites deployed by the US Space Shuttle; if so, (a) when was this upgrading begun; (b) to what extent is it completed; and (c) what new equipment was involved in this upgrading.

(6) Is the Minister aware of Spacecom Regulation 23-47, issued by the US Department of the Air Force, Headquarters Space Command, Colorado, concerning Detachments 6 of 1 Space Wing, at Kapaun Air Station, Germany, which directs that the Commander of the Kapaun Station `may co-ordinate with other 1 Space Wing Units on matters relating to standardization and other related activities'.

(7) Has the Commander of the Kapaun Station co-ordinated any activities with the Commander of 5 Defence Space Communications Squadron of 1 Space Wing at Woomera Air Station; if so, what is the nature of these activities.

Senator Gareth Evans —The Minister for Defence has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(1) Yes.

(2) The 1970th Communications Squadron was redesignated as the 1970th Information Systems Squadron in 1985 but on 1 November 1986 it reverted to its former title. Its mission, organization and responsibilities are at present set out in SPCD Regulation 23-2 issued by Headquarters Space Communications Division, Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado on 1 May 1983. An internal reorganization at the Joint Defence Space Communications Station (JDSCS) occurred on 1 July 1986 and supervision of the Satellite Readout Station was transferred to 5 Defence Space Communications Squadron. The Satellite Communications Terminal remains the responsibility of the 1970th Communications Squadron. These changes have not yet been reflected in amended Regulations.

(3) Approximately equal numbers of US and Australian personnel man the Satellite Readout Station. Nine- teen personnel were working in the Satellite Readout Station as at 23 October 1986, of whom:

(a) nine were US personnel; and

(b) ten were Australian personnel.

(4) The 5 Defense Space Communications Squadron is responsible for the overall operation of the JDSCS. Its Commander is the Commander of JDSCS as a whole. The 1970th Communications Squadron provides specialised support to 5 Defense Space Communications Squadron. Australian serviceman are attached to both squadrons and are fully integrated into all of the Station's operations.

(5) Changes to and upgrades of the equipment at the JDSCS occur from time to time but only with the prior knowledge and concurrence of the Australian Government. I am not prepared to advise details of these activities if, as in the present case, this might be to the detriment of the effectiveness of the operations of the facility.

(6) Yes.

(7) Questions about the activities of US military personnel serving in countries other than Australia should be directed to the US Government or the other Government concerned. However, I can say that the Commander of 5 Defence Space Communications Squadron is authorised to communicate with other US military units in the performance of the facility's mission.