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MoD in talks with US to site powerful new radar system in the UK

Daily Mail logo Daily Mail 7/17/2021 Laurence Dollimore For Mailonline
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Britain is in talks with the US to site a powerful new radar system in the UK which can track objects some 22,000 miles above Earth. 

The Ministry of Defence said the discussions with the Americans had been 'positive' and that a number of locations are under consideration.

The US Space Force is developing a global radar system capable of monitoring objects in deep space amid concerns over a new arms race developing in space between the West and China and Russia.

Both the US and the UK have warned that the two superpowers are developing weapons that could be used to take out a satellite.

The head of the RAF, Air Chief Marshal Sir Michael Wigston, who is in the US for talks with the Americans, said the British were 'very interested' in the project.

'It will enable us to get a good picture of what is going on and if necessary be ready to protect our critical interests in space,' he told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.

'We see activity by countries like China and Russia which of course is of concern. It is reckless activity, deploying and testing of systems that look like weapons in space.

'So any system like the radar we are talking about which gives us a better picture of what is going on is incredibly important to us.'

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In order to get a 'full picture' of what is happening, the Deep Space Advanced Radar Capability (DARC) will require three radar stations around the globe with possible sites in the UK, US and Australia.

Video: Watch: Virgin Galactic's Richard Branson, 'Unity' crew reach edge of space (NBC News)


All three countries are part of The Five Eyes (FVEY) intelligence alliance, comprising Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States.

The stations, covering around one square kilometre, would host an array of large radar dishes, known as parabolic antenna, each 15 metres in diameter.

Air Chief Marshal Wigston said there were a number of potential British sites under consideration and that no final decisions had been made.

The US already operates an early warning system to detect ballistic missiles in space, which includes a facility at RAF Fylingdales in North Yorkshire.

However that can only detect objects up to 12,000 miles away while DARC would look much further into space.

'These radars are going to have to be powerful enough to look out at what is happening 22,000 miles away where the really important geostationary Earth satellites sit,' Air Chief Marshal Wigston said.

In a statement, a Ministry of Defence spokesman 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.'

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It comes after it was revealed in February that Britain's new space force could be deploying RAF Typhoon fighter jets to the 'edge of space' in a bid to destroy enemy satellites in the near future.

Senior military sources said selected fighter pilots will take part in Space Command's training missions with the ultimate aim of taking down Chinese and Russian military, intelligence and communication satellites during wartime.

The specialist team is expected go through a string of simulated exercises before taking part in training flights where they would reach around 60,000 feet, RAF sources told the Sunday Express.

During a conflict, the pilots would then release anti-satellite (ASAT) missiles at enemy satellites before quickly returning to lower heights. 

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