The Royal Air Force is preparing for a space war after Russia successfully tested anti-satellite weapons which could shut down our military operations.
The RAF’s senior officer Sir Mike Wigston warned that Britain must catch up with its enemies otherwise Vladimir Putin could exploit our ‘complete reliance’ on space.
In recent months Russia has successfully tested an anti-satellite weapon.
Sir Mike Wigston (pictured) warned that Britain must catch up with its enemies otherwise Vladimir Putin could exploit our ‘complete reliance’ on space
Meanwhile, the UK has formed its first Space Command, which is led by the RAF.
The Command’s role is to enhance the country’s ability to defend its assets in space. It also intends to launch its first rocket into space next year.
Air Chief Marshal Wigston said: ‘Russia has developed its anti-satellite capability, against its own satellites so far, having watched the UK and US operations and realised our complete reliance on space.’
Military communications are satellite-dependent while soldiers and military vehicles, including aircraft, rely on GPS. Destruction of British satellites could also grind everyday life to a halt.
More details are expected to be outlined today in a defence command paper – with up to £16.5billion being invested in new technologies.
Russia’s PL19 Nudol is a so-called direct ascent anti-satellite weapon, meaning it is launched from a mobile rocket launcher on earth.
It then shoots through the earth’s atmosphere and into space where it intercepts its targets. It is a variant of the A-235 anti-ballistic missile system originally designed to take out Nato rockets flying towards Moscow.
In recent months Russia has successfully tested an anti-satellite weapon. Pictured: Putin in Serbia yesterday
Russia, along with the US and UK, is among 100 nations that have pledged to abide by a space treaty which obligates signatories to explore outer space solely for peaceful purposes.
But the UK believes Russia and China are breaking its terms by testing systems that could be used in conflict. Around five pers cent of the 2,6000 satellites in orbit are UK registered.
ACM Wigston added that what happened in space would affect everyone’s day to day lives because modern technology is so reliant on satellites.
According to defence sources Russia and China are also testing laser dazzlers which ‘blind’ sensors so aircraft cannot see their targets and lasers which could be fired from a satellite to destroy another satellite.
The RAF is also expanding its development of unmanned aircraft and ACM Wigston predicted that by 2040 80 per cent of RAF aircraft will be un-crewed. Drones such as the Mosquito will be heavily armed and will fly ‘on the wing’ of manned fighter jets such as Typhoon.
The Mosquito, which is currently in the prototype development phase, will have the ability to shoot down enemy aircraft and avoid surface-to-air missiles. The RAF also intends to deploy swarms of 10 to 20 smaller drones flying together and blitzing targets.
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