An Australian defense contractor that provides commercial satellite tracking services says it has monitored hundreds of Chinese space-based surveillance assets making thousands of passes over the country and surrounding areas in recent months. The company’s data indicates that the Chinese satellites have been gathering intelligence about major multi-national military exercises hosted by Australia.
Really, this should not come as a surprise and underscores the fact that the United States, and by extension very close allies like Australia, no longer enjoys an extreme degree of dominance when it comes to space-based surveillance, intelligence, and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities it once did.
Australia’s ABC News was the first to report on the space-tracking data that Canberra-based EOS’ Space Systems division says it has collected about Chinese satellites appearing to monitor the 2023 iterations of the Talisman Sabre exercise last month, which had air, land, and sea components, as well as the recently concluded maritime-centric Malabar exercise. Both of these are major international training events that the United States and other countries participate in. This year’s Talisman Sabre was the largest to date.
“We’ve been collecting optical surveillance data on Earth observing Chinese satellites during the Talisman Sabre and Malabar exercises and what that’s showing is quite a lot of activity surveying the ground during those events,” EOS Space Systems’ James Bennett told ABC News.
“We’ve seen over 300 satellites surveying ground-based activities and the number of overflights is over 3,000 since the start of the Malabar exercise centered around the Sydney Harbor bay area,” he added.
In addition, “in July… EOS Space Systems tracked three Chinese geostationary orbit satellites maneuvering into position below the equator to monitor the Talisman Sabre war…