Submission from Dr Stuart Eves
1. This is an independent, personal submission
to the Committee from Dr Stuart Eves, currently with Surrey Satellite
Technology Limited (SSTL), but previously employed for 16 years
by UK MOD. This submission is the result of a personal invitation
to provide the Committee with observations on military space policy.
Hence, it will not reiterate points made on behalf of SSTL by
Professor Sir Martin Sweeting, but rather will concentrate on
some additional policy areas that are considered important from
a specifically military perspective.
2. Military Space Alliances: For an extended
period, UK military space policy has been dominated by our strategic
relationship with the US. Whilst this has provided undoubted advantages,
it has also created a significant degree of dependence, particularly
in areas such as surveillance and navigation. By contrast, civil
space policy has specified that the UK should participate in space
activities through the European Space Agency, (ESA). This has
created a less-than-helpful division in UK space activities, which
has only been bridged on rare occasions, (eg the TopSat satellite,
a surveillance mission which was jointly funded by MOD and BNSC).
3. Although previously a wholly civil agency,
ESA is taking an increasingly military stance; (the "Security"
element of the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security
(GMES) programme appears almost intentionally ill-defined to allow
military applications). It is inevitable that there will be distinct
military utility inherent in the data gathered by the GMES surveillance
assets. For this reason, MOD needs to remain cognisant of the
development of these satellites, and take an active role in directing
the "civil" space funding from the UK that will potentially
be applied to these programmes through the BNSC.
4. Given a desire to participate in both
US and European military programmes in the future, the strongest
and most cost effective policy for the UK is the funding of national
satellite missions; thereby creating capabilities which can be
shared with allies on both sides of the Atlantic as appropriate.
This approach would simultaneously decrease the current level
of dependence on allies and at the same time maximise the political
options open to the UK Government. Data from a national surveillance
asset, for example, could be shared with both the US and our European
allies, gaining double credit for the investment made.
5. The Use of Space in Military Operations:
The importance of space to military operations is now very significant,
and continues to grow. Long-range communications, navigation,
and meteorology are heavily dependent on satellite systems, and
much of the surveillance data covering "denied" regions
of the globe is also collected by satellites. These application
areas are addressed separately in the paragraphs below.
6. The UK has maintained a national capability
in satellite communications through the Skynet satellite system.
These satellites provide the secure command and control capability
that the UK requires, but the capacity of the satellites has been
insufficient to meet the increasing demands for bandwidth that
modern warfare generates, (with the result that in recent conflicts
a significant proportion of UK military traffic has been carried
by unhardened civil communication satellites). In the Skynet 5
era, the capacity demands are expected to increase still faster,
and will extend to lower levels of command as Network Enabled
Capability is implemented. Hence, future policy needs to ensure
that satellite communications capacity increases faster so that
these enhanced requirements can be met.
7. In order to minimise collateral damage
and politically unacceptable casualties, (on both sides of the
conflict), increasing reliance is now being placed upon long-range
precision-guided munitions. These weapons are reliant on satellite
navigation to find their targets, and currently, the US's Global
Positioning System (GPS) is a wholly necessary component of UK
war-fighting capability. In view of this over-reliance on a US
system which has been shown to be vulnerable to radio-frequency
jamming, a robust UK position within the European Galileo navigation
programme, which could offer an alternative to GPS, seems a prudent
8. In order to ensure the provision of meteorological
data, the UK has made contributions to the METOP programme. Whilst
this is a very capable satellite, providing important information
on environmental factors such as wind speed and direction, the
limited size of the constellation, (three satellites in low Earth
orbit are planned), means that the timeliness of the data will
struggle to keep pace with the future tempo of military operations.
Policy should thus aim at greater timeliness of meteorological
9. This increased tempo of military operations
is of even greater import in the realm of surveillance. Existing
assets are optimised for strategic applications, with excellent
spatial resolution, but very poor area coverage rates. By contrast,
tactical and operational surveillance emphasises the need to provide
timely information over a commander's area of intelligence interest,
and it is only with recent missions such as TopSat that MOD have
started to appreciate the potential value of constellations of
10. Constellations of affordable satellite
assets can provide not only optical surveillance, but also active
radar sensing and SIGINT information, both of which are available
day and night, and in all weather conditions, further enhancing
the responsiveness and freshness of the information that they
deliver to the warfighter. Future policy should ensure that sufficient
investment in this area is made to provide the UK with a robust,
independent capability that can contribute to international collaborations.
11. Current MOD Space Policy: The recent
review of MOD Space Policy, (and other recent MOD documentation,
including the Future Air and Space Operational Concept; the Defence
Industrial Strategy; and the Defence Technology Strategy), appears
to recognise the fact that space has become the new "High
Ground" in military affairs. Small satellites are identified
as key technologies, and this is an extremely positive development.
12. There are, however, some key technologies
that the UK needs to address more robustly if it is make full
use of the potential that space offers. One is the capability
to provide military planners with "Space Situation Awareness"
(SSA); essentially a "Recognised Space Picture" that
characterises the current order of battle in the space environment.
Existing capabilities to perform SSA have been allowed to atrophy,
and this situation urgently needs to be reversed. It is essentially
impossible to operate effectively in the space environment without
SSA, and hence this should become a key policy goal.
13. Future policy should also address the
issue of access to space. The UK was the third nation worldwide
to launch its own satellite, but the Black Arrow programme was
cancelled in the early 1970's, and the UK has been reliant on
foreign launch capabilities since that time. Some capability could
perhaps be provided in the short term by utilising the UK's Trident
missiles, (with the addition of a further propulsion stage), but
if the UK is to participate effectively in the "Responsive
Space" future which the US envisages, an indigenous launch
capability would make a huge difference.