Published 21 Sept 2021
DE&S’ new Space team will work with UK Space Command to explore the increasingly important defence sphere.
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Cutting-edge ways of navigating in the event of disruption of Global Positioning Systems (GPS) are being explored by innovative UK industry on behalf of DE&S.
GPS works by computing signals from a global network of satellites and also facilitates secure communications for control and command assets including radars, missile systems and combat support so alternative means of maintaining these key services are critical.
The Alternative Navigation research has identified three possible routes to provide an alternate Position, Navigation and Timing (PNT) solution and enhance the UK’s resilience.
The new Space Delivery Team within DE&S, which is running the programme, is focusing on resilient timing (improving timing accuracy), signal of opportunity (determining own position by using radio transmissions) and visual navigation (exploiting advances in imaging sensors to inform position).
DE&S Space Delivery Team leader Marcus Bruton said: “These three areas of research will look to provide the MOD with increased resilience across PNT capabilities by delivering alternative solutions that will supplement the services provided by GPS.
“I am excited that we have six UK-based companies at the forefront of this essential research, showcasing the nation’s amazing innovation and scientific creativity.”
Work, which is currently in the concept phase, began in April 2021 and will run until March 2023. The team will then narrow down the options available and demonstrate and assess prototypes to determine which ideas to take forward.
Seven contracts, at a total value of around £3.8-million, were recently placed with six companies based in the UK [July 2021]:
- Resilient Timing – Teledyne e2v, a Teledyne UK company UK (Essex)
- Signal of Opportunity – QinetiQ Ltd and Roke Manor Research Ltd (Hampshire)
- Visual Navigation – Forsberg Services Ltd (Lancashire); Horiba Mira Ltd (Warwickshire); MBDA UK Ltd and Roke Manor Research (Hampshire).
Marcus, who spoke as part of a Space discussion panel at DSEI this week, added: “One of DE&S’ key priorities is to continuously evolve to future threats and deliver pace and agility for our clients, the Armed Forces. The Space Delivery Team has been stood up with that firmly in mind and it’s an exciting challenge.”
As outlined in the recent Defence Command Paper, space underpins the MOD’s ability to undertake the majority of defence tasks and is fundamental to military operations and understanding the domain is crucial in maintaining our competitive edge.