Peter Cronau, the author of a forthcoming book on Pine Gap, told The Saturday Paper that the facility’s primary function has expanded “from its early focus on passive surveillance gathering, such as collecting military communications, diplomatic traffic and mobile phone calls. It now plays a vital part in active war-fighting, such as providing targeting information for use by lethal drones, invasion forces and aerial bombing missions.”
He said the first hard evidence confirming Pine Gap’s additional role was found in secret US National Security Agency documents about Pine Gap, leaked by the American whistleblower Edward Snowden. In new research for his book, Cronau says he has found Pine Gap’s role in boosting US war-fighting capabilities is intensifying. He says there has been a rapid expansion in the capability of the US-built and -funded base, with the construction during the past year of four new satellite antennas covered by radomes. Preparations are under way for a massive new antenna that he says would amount to five new ones in a little over a year, making it the fastest period of expansion for the base, to a total of 41 satellite antennas. Cronau says three of the new antennas are designed to download data from powerful new-generation satellites that will collect information from distant war zones.