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US sets sights on Australia bomb tests -

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US sets sights on Australia bomb tests

Reporter: Narda Gilmore

MAXINE McKEW: An Australian defence expert has revealed the US military wants to begin testing its
new generation weapons, including the smart bomb, on Australian soil within three years.

Professor Ross Babbage has been involved in high-level defence talks in Washington as part of
planning for new joint military training operations between Australia and the US.

Australian officials are playing down his comments, saying there are no plans for any new weapons
testing facilities.

From Canberra Narda Gilmore reports.

NARDA GILMORE: The groundwork has already been done.

In July this year, Australia and the United States signed a deal to develop three high-tech joint
military training centres, at Shoalwater Bay in Queensland and the Bradshaw training area and
Delamere weapons range in the Northern Territory.

DONALD RUMSFELD, US DEFENCE SECRETARY: Our countries should be better able to integrate our
military capabilities to meet the challenges of the 21st century.

NARDA GILMORE: It's now becoming clearer how the new training centres will be used.

Defence expert Professor Ross Babbage has recently returned from high level talks in Washington,
and he sees big benefits ahead for Australia's defence force.

PROFESSOR ROSS BABBAGE, FORMER GOVERNMENT DEFENCE ADVISOR: What it's clearly going to be and has
the potential to be as a consequence of these exercises and other things that are happening in
parallel is right at the cutting edge of the next generation of warfare.

NARDA GILMORE: Professor Babbage says the Bush Administration considers Australia one of its
closest allies.

He expects the US to increase the amount of training it does here.

The first of the new joint warfare exercises will be held at Queensland's Shoalwater Bay in 2007.

PROFESSOR ROSS BABBAGE: We'll be experimenting, working out better ways of actually playing the
game, if you like, and getting much better value.

NARDA GILMORE: Professor Babbage says future exercises might also include trials of new generation
weapons, including the self-guided smart bomb.

That's angered some residents group, and they're vowing to fight.

DENIS DOHERTY, AUSTRALIAN ANTI-BASES COALITION: We're talking about everything in our armoury --
from protests to letter writing to civil disobedience.

NARDA GILMORE: The Queensland Government is also concerned.

PETER BEATTIE, QLD PREMIER: Because I think that makes us a target.

I mean, the United States has got a lot of areas where they can do that testing themselves, a bit
like the French, you can do it at home, you don't need to do it here.

The joint exercises are really important but I don't think we need to be testing bombs.

PROFESSOR ROSS BABBAGE: I can't imagine that this is going to render Australia or certainly
Queensland any more vulnerable to terrorist attack.

Frankly, what it is going to do is send a signal to anyone who wants to look -- is that the ADF is
going to be formidable.

NARDA GILMORE: In a statement today, the Defence Department says previous joint training exercises
have already included the use of smart weapons.

But it also says while talks with the US are continuing, there's no current proposal to develop any
extra facilities for trials of new weapons.

Narda Gilmore, Lateline.