AEROSPACE giant Airbus has said it would be eager to back a new UK-based GPS satellite project, sparking fresh hopes jobs in Portsmouth could be protected.
The engineering heavyweight already employs about 1,000 people across its tech hubs in the city.
However, last week fears were ignited 100 of these jobs could be axed from the city over an escalating row between Britain and the EU.
Brussels wants to cut ties with Britain in its multi-billion pound Galileo GPS satellite system, due to security concerns after Brexit.
As well as providing GPS for cars, the system would also transmit sensitive security data.
The EU wants all jobs on the project to be based in European member states, claiming it would be a hazard to continental defence to leave aspect of the project in UK hands post-Brexit.
If green-lit, it would mean up to 100 roles at Galileo’s Portsmouth-based ground control hub would be shipped abroad, with Airbus already stating it was committed to the project and operating in the EU.
But today Downing Street hit back, saying it was determined Britain will build its own GPS satellite in conjunction with industry and the UK Space Agency.
Under the proposal, the prime minister will task engineering and aerospace experts from across the nation to develop options for a British Global Navigation Satellite System that would guide missiles and power satnavs.
The ambition is to build and launch the hi-tech system by the mid-2020s.
Airbus has since said it is eager to play a role, with a spokesman saying: ‘If the UK opts for its own satellite navigation system then Airbus’ space operations in the UK has the skills and expertise to lead the development of it.’
The hope is the firm could use its site in Portsmouth to back the development of the new satellite – if the scheme ever comes to fruition.
Led by the UK Space Agency, a taskforce of government specialists and domestic industry will develop options that will provide both civilian and encrypted signals, so a British system would have a similar range of commercial and security applications as the US GPS system.
A British system would cost around the same each year as the UK’s contribution to Galileo.
Britain will be able to use Galileo’s open signal in the future, however UK armed forces and emergency services may be denied access to the encrypted system once up an running in 2026.