WASHINGTON — As part of the trilateral security partnership known as AUKUS, a network of three space-tracking radars will be set up in Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States. 

The three nations announced Dec. 2 they will host and operate the Deep Space Advanced Radar Capability (DARC), a next generation ground-based sensor funded by the U.S. Space Force and currently being developed by Northrop Grumman

“The Deep Space Advanced Radar Capability will leverage the geography of the United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom to further enhance our collective space domain awareness: the ability to track, identify and characterize space objects,” U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense for Space Policy John Plumb said Dec. 2 in a news release. 

Three sites to be built by 2030

DARC will provide 24/7, all-weather capabilities to track and characterize objects deep in space — in geosynchronous orbit up to 22,000 miles above Earth. 

The first DARC radar site, to be constructed in Exmouth, Western Australia, is expected to be operational in 2026. All three sites are projected to be completed by 2030. They will support space defense initiatives, space-traffic management and global surveillance of military and commercial satellites. 

Cawdor Barracks in Wales has been identified as the U.K.’s preferred site for DARC, pending an environmental impact assessment. 

Sandra Erwin writes about military space programs, policy, technology and the industry that supports this sector. She has covered the military, the Pentagon, Congress and the defense industry for nearly two decades as editor of NDIA’s National Defense...