The US has announced plans to build a space base in the UK in a bid to stave of “threats” posed by Russia and China and to probe deep space.
The US Space Force is developing a global radar system that can identify potential “targets” the size of footballs up to 22,000 miles away.
Three sites have been earmarked as sites for the new scheme, including one in southern England or Scotland, and two more in Australia and Texas. Current plans are for the first base to be operational by 2025.
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Each site is set to house between “10 and 15 satellite dishes for tracking” and “four to six for transmitting”, each measuring around 15 metres in diameter.
The Ministry of Defence said the new radar capability has the potential to make space “safer and more secure”, amid growing concerns about congestion and competition in space.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and other UK defence chiefs visited the US Space And Missile Systems Center in Los Angeles this week to discuss the plans, known as Deep Space Advanced Radar Capability — or DARC.
Speaking at the event, Lieutenant Colonel Jack Walker said the new system was “necessary because we want to keep chain-of-custody of targets that could threaten our systems that are in geosynchronous orbit”.
He told Sky News: “It could be satellites or it could just be debris from rocket bodies from other launches.”
Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston, the head of the Royal Air Force, added that it would help the UK “defend our critical infrastructure in space”.
“Right now, there are countries like Russia and China that are doing things, developing systems that are … a threat to satellites that we rely on in our day-to-day lives,” he said.
Both the US and Britain have accused Russia and China of developing weapons that can be used to take out satellites in recent years. Last year, 1,000 new satellites were launched into space, including 10 by the US military.
The US already operates an early warning system to detect ballistic missiles in space, including a service at RAF Fylindales in North Yorkshire.
However, it can only detect objects around 12,400 miles away, and is therefore far less powerful than DARC would be.
Speaking at the event in California, Mr Wallace said the new radar system would focus not on “wrecking space but defending and protecting space”.
“It wouldn’t be like Star Wars or Moonraker with lasers firing all over the place… I suspect in a major conflict, space assets would be targeted. So we have to invest and prepare today to make sure we have alternatives,” he added.
A Ministry of Defence spokesperson said: “This new radar capability has the potential to make space safer and more secure, helping to protect our satellite system by tracking and monitoring objects.
“We are exploring our potential partnership with the USA on DARC and discussions so far have been positive.”
This Article firstly Publish on inews.co.uk