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RAF assumes control for UK’s military space activities

21 May 2018
Reflecting the growing importance of the space domain to the UK, as illustrated here with a rendering of the Airbus Skynet satellite communications system, the RAF has taken control of the country's military space activities ahead of the publication of a national Defence Space Strategy later in the year. Source: Airbus

The UK Royal Air Force (RAF) has been given responsibility for the country’s military space activities as part of a wider Defence Space Strategy to be revealed in the coming weeks.

The RAF’s Air Command has taken on responsibility for command and control (C2) of all UK military space operations, Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson announced on 21 May. This disclosure is part of a wider national space strategy to be unveiled in the summer (third quarter) of this year.

Timed to coincide with the opening of the inaugural Ministry of Defence (MoD)-sponsored Air Power Association Defence Space 2018 conference in London, Williamson’s disclosure on 21 May is a recognition of the UK military's increasing reliance on space systems and technology, and the need to boost the country’s presence and expertise in the domain.

“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,” Williamson said, adding; “It is essential we protect our interests and assets from potential adversaries who seek to cause major disruption and do us harm.”

Giving the keynote address at the Defence Space 2018 conference, the chief of the RAF Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier reiterated the defence secretary’s comments with regard to the importance of space to the wider UK defence picture, at the same time as noting the growing importance of space to his own particular service.

“The UK defence sector is becoming ever more reliant on this vital domain. Our adversaries have recognised the advantages of space, and are we are at acute risk from those who would look to [do us harm]. We need to work increasingly hard to secure the space capabilities on which we are now utterly reliant.

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