Jones underscores importance of US, Australian alliance at Australian Space Summit

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Nick Z. Erwin
  • Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs
The Honorable Kristyn Jones, Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Financial Management and Comptroller, highlighted the critical alliance between the United States and Australia during the Australian Space Summit in Sydney, Australia, May 29, 2024.

The summit offered a chance for defense and civilian space sectors to further partnerships, collaboration and to continue building relationships.

Jones noted the impressive history of the alliance between the U.S. and Australia, from fighting side-by-side during conflicts to formally establishing a security treaty between the two nations 73 years ago, and the ways the shared relationship has paved the way for collaboration in all domains.

“Our partnership has never been stronger,” Jones explained. “We are modernizing the alliance and engaging in unprecedented new cooperation across all domains … This partnership is key to safeguarding our shared values and advancing initiatives for a free and open Indo-Pacific.”

She also emphasized the need for continued collaboration in the face of today’s dynamic security environment, citing the efforts initiated by the Department of the Air Force to address great power competition during her year of performing the duties of Under Secretary of the Air Force from March 2023 to May 2024.

“[Partnership] is more critical than ever as we face the most complex and challenging strategic environment of our lifetimes,” Jones said.

Jones went on to describe the importance of focusing on the space domain.

“One aspect of today’s complex strategic environment is that space is now a contested domain,” Jones said. “Nations like China and Russia are quickly moving to improve their capabilities and are fielding a wide range of counterspace technologies to disrupt and degrade our space-based capabilities.”

Combatting these emerging technologies is a team effort, and Jones highlighted multiple opportunities the U.S. and Australia have seized to secure a free and safe space domain, including the first-ever Link-16 network entry from space beginning in November 2023. The efforts, led by the U.S. Space Force’s Space Development Agency (SDA) in collaboration with the Australian Department of Defence, use a ground test site in Australia and low-Earth orbit satellites from Tranche 0 of SDA’s Proliferated Warfighter Space Architecture (PWSA) to transmit tactical messages from space to ground. The continuing demonstrations showcase the potential to add beyond-line-of-sight capability to Link-16, improving real-time situational awareness and global connectivity for the joint warfighter.

“In competition or conflict, space is the ultimate high ground, and we must be able to secure the domain for our use, while denying advantage to the adversary … By working together, we better achieve integrated deterrence, and our collective efforts are greater than any individual contribution,” Jones said.

She also described AUKUS, the trilateral security partnership between Australia, the United Kingdom, and the U.S., as foundational to continued collaboration. Pillar II of the agreement includes the Deep Space Advanced Radar Capability, a 24/7, all-weather system that increases the shared ability to detect, track, identify and characterize objects deep in space and take defensive action if necessary.

During the trip, Jones also visited Royal Australian Air Force Bases Williamtown and Edinburgh where she met with RAAF Airmen who briefed her on capabilities such as Australia’s E-7 Wedgetail and F-35A Lightning II. She also spoke with U.S. Air Force Airmen who are assigned to RAAF bases as part of the two countries’ robust Military Personnel Exchange Program.

In addition to various other immersive stops, Jones spent time with Australian Defence Space Commander Maj. Gen. Gregory Novak and Royal Australian Air Force Chief of Air Force Air Marshal Robert Chipman. The leaders discussed various opportunities to continue to advance shared objectives in the air and space domains.