The UK is reaching out to its “Five Eyes” security allies to enlist their help in building an alternative to the EU’s Global Navigation Satellite System Galileo, reported The Telegraph.
According to the publication, Space Agency officials have conferred with representatives from the US, Australia, Canada and New Zealand, the nations that make up the security pact.
If the UK succeeds in getting its security partners on board, they might provide technology or financial support for an estimated £5 billion project in exchange for access to the system’s most accurate military-grade signal.
The row over Britain’s contribution to Galileo has been raging for more than a year, with the UK likely to be locked out of the project after Brexit, despite having invested more than £1 billion, as well as developing much of its technology.
In March 2018, the European Commission confirmed the UK was likely to be frozen out of some aspects of the project, especially relating to Galileo’s public regulated service.
Brussels claim that under EU law, countries outside the bloc will not have access to the PRS, an encrypted navigation system for government users.
The-then Prime Minister Theresa May said in a statement last April:
"We've been clear that the UK wants to remain involved in the EU’s Galileo satellite programme. But we cannot be an ‘end user’, shut out from security discussions and contracts, and without critical information about the system’s security. Use of something we are unable to rely on has little value, and we cannot justify paying towards that".
"So unless we receive assurance that we can collaborate on a close basis in the future - like the close security partners we aspire to be - we are clear that we will withdraw UK support for Galileo and pursue our own sovereign satellite system".
According to public sector information website gov.uk, the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy and UK Space Agency published guidelines on 9 August 2019 emphasising that post-Brexit the UK will not “use Galileo, including the future Public Regulated Service (PRS), for defence or critical national infrastructure, have access to the encrypted Galileo Public Regulated Service or be able to play any part in the development of Galileo".
The decision to exclude Britain has already affected the UK, with Airbus and Surrey Satellite Technology, SSTL, losing out on contracts to work on the project.
Last August, the UK Space Agency announced the launch of a £92 billion feasibility study on an alternative system to Galileo.
The Galileo project had been in work since 1999, when the European Union embarked on a plan to assemble its own network of satellites, with the first ones put into orbit in 2013.
UK companies built components for Galileo and one of the project's two Galileo Security Monitoring Centres was previously based in the UK, in Swanwick.
Galileo is an EU Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) that once fully operational will provide accurate position, navigation, and timing information. It will benefit governments, citizens, and industry alike.