Ministry of Defence
Defence Secretary's speech at the Defence Space Conference 2020
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace yesterday talked about transforming in the new Space Age.
Good afternoon, it’s a great pleasure to speak to you at the end of what has clearly been a fascinating and wide-ranging conference.
The variety of speakers – over 45, from the UK and overseas, and military and civilian sectors, as well as academia and private industry – shows just how important space is, right across today’s society.
Such importance risks dependence and vulnerability, but it also creates opportunity and offers advantages.
That is why the Prime Minister has such a clear vision for the UK as a Great Science power, with credibility and ambition in Space at its heart. #F This conference has demonstrated how defence will play a central part in achieving that vision.
We’ve heard from the Chief of the Air Staff about modern society’s dependence on space services.
And we have been reminded how our adversaries are increasingly seeking to weaponise space.
In recent years more countries have used Anti-Satellite weapons.
Earlier this year, alongside the US Chief of Space Operations, I called out Russia’s aggression in orbit.
But space weapons are not our only concern. Ground-based lasers and jammers could also pose a significant threat to our satellites. And their supporting infrastructure on the ground also remains a serious target.
No wonder one of the constant refrains you have heard throughout this conference and, indeed, throughout this year of Covid, has been the importance of resilience.
Commander UK Strategic Command set out how we must become more resilient in space if we are to establish the ‘digital backbone’ and achieve Multi Domain Integration.
And we have now recognised space as an operational domain, driving the development of capabilities to increase resilience and competitiveness.
We are, of course, not the only ones and you’ve heard from many of our Allies in the US, France and NATO, are also alongside us, and they are going to be part of that journey as well.
But there are those steps through which I want the UK MOD to now lead on this journey:
First, our ability to mobilise.
We must recognise our vulnerabilities. Understand our reliance on space – whether for imagery, communications, or navigation. And, in the event that we lose access to our satellite services, have a contingency plan ready.
So, we’re working very closely with the UK Space Agency to create a National Space Operations Capability.
It will improve the way we share data.
It will help us act unhindered to secure our national interests in space.
And, alongside our UK Space Command, it will enhance defence’s ability to generate and operate its own equipment.
Second, resilience will be about modernising what we have – strengthening our existing capabilities.
That’s why we are bringing SKYNET into defence ownership. It will give our personnel the tools to operate a world-leading satellite constellation and ensure they stay at the cutting-edge of space experience and expertise.
And that’s why, back in July, we awarded a contract worth £500-million for SKYNET 6A. This new, more advanced satellite capability will provide continued communications support to the UK’s deployed forces for many years.
Meanwhile, we’re continuing the hunt for the latest space innovations.
I am delighted that our first ever International Space Pitch Day was so successful, and congratulations to the winning bids.
With innovations from space weather to space domain awareness, I wish these ten companies every success as they move forward with defence contracts.
Finally, resilience will be about transforming for the future. Going further and faster. Developing next-generation and generation-after-next, technology and the people and structures to exploit them.
That’s why we’ve created the Defence Space Enterprise Portfolio.
Bonding brilliant industry expertise with MOD’s Space Directorate and our world leading DSTL.
Transforming the latest research into game changing space innovations.
Not only deterring dangers but fast-tracking innovative kit to bring to the frontline of space.
Because resilience may be our watchword. But it goes hand in hand with opportunity.
Our evolving National Space Strategy will help us deliver those grand ambitions and defence will play its part – mobilising, modernising, and transforming.
So exciting times lie ahead. Last year we celebrated 50 years since the UK’s first venture into Space.
Since then the dynamism of you – our great British scientists, military and industrial experts – has not wavered.
And your continuing commitment will ensure that in the coming decade Global Britain takes its place as a Space Power in the new Space Age.
Latest News from
Ministry of Defence
300 British troops deploy to Mali on UN Peacekeeping Mission04/12/2020 08:15:00
A UK task force has arrived in Mali to join the UN peacekeeping mission where they will provide a reconnaissance capability.
Baroness Goldie speech at 25th Conference of States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention30/11/2020 16:15:00
Baroness Goldie's speech at the 25th Conference of States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention in The Hague.
£2.4 billion munitions deal secures thousands of UK jobs30/11/2020 11:25:00
A new £2.4 billion contract to equip UK Armed Forces with essential fire power will sustain 4,000 jobs around the UK over 15 years, Defence Minister Jeremy Quin today announced.
World-class autonomous minehunters to protect Royal Navy27/11/2020 10:15:00
The UK and France reaffirmed their long-standing defence relationship yesterday by committing to a joint programme for Autonomous Minehunting Systems that will detect and neutralise mines around the world.
National Cyber Force Transforms country's cyber capabilities to protect UK20/11/2020 13:25:00
The new National Cyber Force (NCF) is helping to transform the UK’s cyber capabilities to disrupt adversaries and keep the UK safe, the Prime Minister announced yesterday
Sir John Manzoni announced as Chair Designate for AWE plc NDPB Board20/11/2020 10:15:00
Following the announcement that the Atomic Weapons Establishment plc will become an Arms-Length Body of the MOD, the Department has decided to appoint Sir John Manzoni as Chair Designate.
Winners of International Space Pitch Day revealed18/11/2020 15:15:15
UK & US mark several international firsts for military innovation.
Royal Navy warship sails into Arctic Circle for High North operation18/11/2020 10:15:00
HMS Lancaster has completed three days of operations in the High North, marking the second time the Royal Navy has sailed into the Arctic Circle in two months.