New addition to Waihopai. Jul 12, 2007 14:37:48 GMT 12
Post by corsair67 on Jul 12, 2007 14:37:48 GMT 12
New dish joins golf balls at spy base.
WARWICK BLACKLER/The Marlborough Express
Marlborough's listening "golf balls" have acquired a new set of ears, with the addition of another satellite dish at the Waihopai Spy Base.
The new dish has been built over the last month or so.
Government Communications Security Bureau director Bruce Ferguson said it was not yet working, but should be up and running in the next three or four months.
Air Marshall Ferguson said the new dish would enable satellites to be tracked more efficiently.
At a cost of under $1 million, it was very good value for money, he said.
"It's simply an enhancement of our capabilities. It's a new, modern aerial which will increase our ability to conduct the tasks we do."
The dish did not spin around, but had limited ability to manoeuvre on its fixed pad.
The new Torus-built dish joins the "golf balls", the first of which was built in 1989, and the second in 1998.
It would continue with the bureau's collection of intelligence, and "it's very common knowledge that satellite collections is a way of doing that," he said.
Though some finishing touches need to be made before it is operational later this year, its appearance will not change noticeably now that it is in place.
Nearby landowners and the Marlborough District Council had been advised of the dish's installation through letters earlier in the year, but the bureau had not received any feedback from anyone.
He said national security rules meant the new dish did not need resource consent.
"It's not a thing we are going to advertise, but neither are we going to keep it a secret."
Unlike the existing two dishes, which Air Marshall Ferguson said were covered by domes to ward off the weather, the new dish will remain in the open.
Anti-Bases Campaign spokesman Murray Horton said he did not know about the new dish, but Marlborough Green Party representative Steffan Browning said it showed the bureau was still in the business of snooping.
"It shows there's no thought of let up at all, if anything it's just increasing the potential surveillance of both New Zealanders and our friends, without knowing where it's targeted and the nature of that surveillance."
He said the other two dishes were covered so the direction of the dishes inside could not be determined, but the new dish changed the layout of the golf balls and building.
"It takes away the phallic thing, and gives it a hernia as well," he said.