Aussies eye BMD role

June 11, 2007 at 1:04 PM
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CANBERRA, Australia, June 11 (UPI) -- Australia is looking at possible roles for its Jindalee over-the-horizon radar and the ultra-secret U.S. facility at Pine Gap in a BMD system.

The examination is the result of Australia's decision to join the United States and Japan in a ballistic missile defense architecture because of the threat posed by North Korea, which is developing long-range missiles.

"We have taken a threshold decision to explore how we might contribute to a missile defense system in our region," The Australian quoted Defense Minister Brendan Nelson. "We want to be part of the solution. ...

"We saw a (North Korean) Taepodong launch last year, which could have traveled 3,000 kilometers (about 1,800 miles) had they got it right, and it wasn't far from being right."

In 2004 Canberra and Washington signed an agreement by which Australia would look at practical ways to cooperate in missile defense. That cooperation has now broadened to include cooperating in U.S.-Japanese efforts at creating an ABM shield.

In addition to increased research and development of ABM operating systems and materials, Australia is looking at how the new Aegis-equipped destroyers it plans to acquire would fit in.

Pine Gap is a highly secret and long-established signals and satellite intelligence facility in the Australian Outback. It's so secretive it's often been called Australia's Area 51 -- a reference to the super-secret U.S. government facility in the Nevada desert.

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