With an increasing amount of the UK’s military systems now dependent on space technology, the MOD has today announced that RAF Air Command has assumed responsibility for command and control of UK military space operations to defend the UK’s interests in space. The Defence Secretary has also confirmed his intention to boost the 500 personnel currently working in the UK defence space sector by a fifth over the next five years, taking the total to over 600. The new Defence Space Strategy, expected in the summer, will set out plans to protect UK operations against emerging space-based threats such as jamming of civilian satellites used for broadcasters and satellite navigation to support military capabilities.
Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said:
"We must make sure we are primed and ready to deter and counter the intensifying threats to our everyday life that are emerging in space. That’s why today I’m announcing the RAF is taking the lead in this area and why we plan to increase the number of personnel covering space.
Satellite technology is not just a crucial tool for our Armed Forces but vital to our way of life, whether that be access to our mobile phones, the internet or television. It is essential we protect our interests and assets from potential adversaries who seek to cause major disruption and do us harm.
Britain is a world leader in the space industry and our defence scientists and military personnel have played a central role in the development of the EU’s Galileo satellite programme alongside British companies, so it is important we also review our contribution and how we plan for alternative systems in this crucial area."
As part of the EU’s Galileo programme, UK companies have led the way in developing innovative satellite technology. The UK has contributed €1.4bn (£1.2bn) in funding to the programme and provided vital ground infrastructure in the Falklands and the Ascension Islands. Participation in Galileo with the appropriate level of access and involvement remains the MOD's preferred option, however the department is working on alternative options, and as part of this will work with the UK Space Agency to explore opportunities for UK companies.
techUK will seek to engage with the MOD on the the development of the new strategy once it is published in the summer, so that its content reflects the views and suggestions of our members.
For more information on the official announcement of the UK Defence Space Strategy, as well as comments from the Minister for Defence Procurement and the Chief of the Air Staff on the launch, please click here.