Defence secretary Penny Mordaunt announces new space programme for the RAF

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AN AMBITIOUS space programme will see the RAF play a leading role in the space race of the future, Portsmouth MP and defence secretary Penny Mordaunt has said.

The Portsmouth North MP today announced a £30m space project to launch a small satellite demonstrator in the next 12 months giving them more awareness on operations.

International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt in Downing Street, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday November 14, 2018. See PA story POLITICS Brexit. Photo credit should read: Victoria Jones/PA Wire

International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt in Downing Street, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday November 14, 2018. See PA story POLITICS Brexit. Photo credit should read: Victoria Jones/PA Wire

The RAF will second a test pilot for Virgin Orbit’s launch of additional space satellites and join a US-led coalition called Operation Olympic Defender, a deterrent against hostile actors.

The news comes following the development of hit-to-kill interceptor missiles by China, and Russia’s successful trials of anti-satellite missile systems.

Speaking at the RAF Air and Space Power Conference this morning, Ms Mordaunt said: ‘Today we show the sky is no longer the limit for our armed forces with a multi-million-pound investment in the launch of a small satellite demonstrator, supported by a new transatlantic team of defence personnel.

‘In the face of evolving threats from hostile actors in space, we are acting more closely than ever with our international allies through Five Eyes, Nato and now Operation Olympic Defender.

‘Faced with the evolving threats posed by grey-zone warfare, our transformed Strategic Command will provide the structure and coordination our armed forces need across all five domains.’

The UK is the first country to join Operation Olympic Defender, with the defence secretary highlighting the importance of cooperating with international allies.

Joint Forces Command, which manages joint capabilities of the three armed forces branches, will be transformed into Strategic Command, getting control of space and cyber warfare.