Space

US Wants To Build Giant 'Deep Space Radar' In UK

The Deep Space Advanced Radar Capability (DARC) will require three radar stations positioned around the globe.

The US military wants to build a powerful new radar system in the UK to track targets up to 22,000 miles away.

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

The US Space Force is developing a global system to monitor objects in deep space amid concerns about a new arms race developing in space.

Both the US and the UK have warned that China and Russia 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."

WATCH: US Space Force chief says space is 'a warfighting domain'.

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.

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

ACM Wigston said there were a number of potential British sites under consideration but added 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," ACM 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."

Cover image: A view of the curvature of the Earth from space (Picture: NASA).