Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Site changes at the Joint Defence Facility Pine Gap.

Download WordDownload Word







DPIO 99/98

Friday, June 5, 1998




There will be some additions soon to the skyline at the Joint Defence Facility Pine Gap outside Alice Springs in the Northern Territory, due to new developments agreed by the Australian and United States governments.


The changes involve construction of additional antennas, and some extension to buildings at Pine Gap. The new antennas will be protected by the familiar ‘golf ball’ environmental covers.


Two factors have led to the changes.


In July 1996, the Minister for Defence announced planned changes in the cooperative arrangements between the United States and Australia covering space-based ballistic missile early warning. These involved closure of the Joint Facility Nurrungar and the establishment of a Relay Ground Station at Pine Gap The Relay Ground Station is to replace some of the functions currently carried out by Nurrungar.


In February 1997, the Minister announced increases to the numbers of Australian and United States staff assigned to the Joint Defence Facility. The Defence White Paper Defending Australia 1994 had previously flagged the fact that the systems supported by Pine Gap would evolve to meet the demands of the post Cold War era.


The site’s status as a Joint Facility is not affected by these changes. Australia continues to have a significant role in both the management and operation of the facility, which ensures that Australia has full knowledge and concurs with all activities at the site.


The Relay Ground Station will initially support satellites in the US Defense Support Program (DSP), as Nurrungar does now. A follow-on system to replace the DSP, known as the Space Based Infra-Red System (SBIRS), is currently under development in the United States, and the Relay Station is expected to also support that program.


On current plans, Nurrungar is expected to close in the year 2000, some time after the Relay Ground Station becomes operational. While Nurrungar remains, facilities will be maintained at an appropriate standard, and the town at Woomera will continue to support its operations.


The Department of Defence will continue actively to manage the closure process and its impact on Woomera, in close consultation with the townspeople, the Premier’s Department of South Australia and the US Air Force.



Issued by:  Tony Underwood, (02) 6265 2703