A new landmark radar initiative will increase UK security by being able to better detect, track and identify objects in deep space, say the Government.

The Deep Space Advanced Radar Capability (DARC) programme – unveiled by the respective Defence Secretaries of Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States – will provide 24/7, all-weather capabilities that will increase AUKUS nations’ ability to characterise objects deep in space up to 22,000 miles (36,000 kilometres) away from earth.

DARC will see a global network of three ground-based radars to be jointly operated that will assist in critical space-traffic management and contribute to the global surveillance of satellites in deep space. The unique geographic positioning of the three nations means that DARC can provide global coverage, including detecting potential threats to defence or civilian space systems.

According to a press release, as the danger of space warfare increases, “this landmark capability will benefit all three nations’ land, air, and maritime forces, as well as protecting critical infrastructure and benefitting our domestic construction and space industries”. 

UK Defence Secretary Grant Shapps was quoted as saying:

“As the world becomes more contested and the danger of space warfare increases, the UK and our allies must ensure we have the advanced capabilities we need to keep our nations’ safe.

Today’s announcement of a global radar network (DARC), based across the UK, US and Australia will do just that. Empowering the UK to detect, track and identify objects in deep space.”

According to the press release:

Cawdor Barracks in Pembrokeshire Wales has been identified as the UK’s preferred site for DARC. The final siting decision is conditional on the results of the ongoing comprehensive MOD-funded Environmental Impact Assessment and subsequent Town Planning application. Cawdor Barracks is currently the home to a British Army Signals Regiment which is due to relocate from 2028. Retention of the Base by the MOD for DARC is likely to boost the local Pembrokeshire economy, creating employment during the construction phase and providing up to 100 longer-term jobs.

Alongside DARC’s defence benefits, it also has the capability to monitor and protect the essential services that rely on satellites in space, including everyday aspects of life such as communications and navigation. This will play a crucial role in AUKUS’ ability to preserve peace and deter conflict in the Indo-Pacific and the rest of the world.

These new radar systems have higher sensitivity, better accuracy, increased capacity, and more agile tracking than current radars and optical systems tracking objects in deep space orbit. This will see greater global monitoring provided to inform UK defence operations, bypassing the current inclement weather and daylight limitations of some current capabilities. The DARC programme follows the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding in September 2023. DARC will enhance our collective space domain awareness, which is a key objective of the UK’s Defence Space Strategy, published last year. AUKUS is a landmark security and defence partnership between Australia, the UK, and the US to support a free and open Indo-Pacific by strengthening regional global security. The development of DARC is a significant step forward for delivery of enhanced security capabilities between the partner nations.”

The first DARC radar site, which is being constructed in Australia, is expected to be operational in 2026, with all three sites operational by the end of the decade.

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George has a degree in Cyber Security from Glasgow Caledonian University and has a keen interest in naval and cyber security matters and has appeared on national radio and television to discuss current events. He also previously worked for the NHS. George is on Twitter at @geoallison
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Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
1 month ago

Excellent. Brawdy was due for closure when 14 Sig Reg moves, so it is good that a military footprint will remain there.

I recall the base has a history of surveillance, one of the SOSUS sites was there I think, alongside the TWU Hawks in the Cold War.

David Lloyd
David Lloyd
1 month ago

For those interested in SETI, its worth noting that these immensely powerful pulses of radar energy will be attracting the attention of any intelligent, spacefaring species in the vicinity of the solar system. Travelling at the speed of light, these pulses will reach the Voyager spacecraft in a few hours and will still be easily detectable 100 light years away. We will be shouting out “HEY LOOK AT US HERE BEAMING ENERGY OUT FROM THE alpha QUADRANT!! Any aliens detecting our radar pulses from Wales will be able to deduce a great deal about humans and our level of technology.… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
1 month ago
Reply to  David Lloyd

True mate. To be fair with the amount of EM activity any out there will have known of earth for years. Which we know they have anyway.

Dean
Dean
1 month ago
Reply to  David Lloyd

We do have Dr Who based just down the road in Cardiff if the Daleks decide to invade …

Jonathan
Jonathan
1 month ago
Reply to  David Lloyd

I would not worry…..chances of someone wandering around in the area are remote in the extreme….what most people forget is that space is so vast it does not just separate in space but also time…our closest possible system with life is Alpha Centauri is likely 1-2 billion years older than earth….that means in all likelihood any civilisation on Alpha Centauri lived and died before anything other than single cell microorganisms existed on earth….that’s the reality…we know there are uncounted numbers of potential life baring planets in the galaxy…but most of those solar systems are many billions of years older than… Read more »

Deep32
Deep32
1 month ago

Yes mate, the SOSUS site moved from Brawdy down to St Mawgan back in the late 80s early 90s I think it was.All closed down now and moved back across the pond to Dam Neck.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
1 month ago
Reply to  Deep32

Yes mate, that was the JMF, the Joint Maritime Facility at St M.
V inpressive bunker that is hard to miss on GE.
Joint USN, RN, RAF facility, I was gutted when it moved back over the pond.

Deep32
Deep32
1 month ago

Yes, nearly went there myself, but went to Gib instead, before that closed and went the same way in the mid naughties.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
1 month ago
Reply to  Deep32

Was that a SOSUS set up at Gig? MDC?

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
1 month ago

Gig…Gib!

Deep32
Deep32
1 month ago

The capability went to Dam neck, we never had any RAF with us in Gib.
Had the chance to go out to DN a few years later, but decided not to in the end.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
1 month ago
Reply to  Deep32

Ok.

Andrew Munro
Andrew Munro
1 month ago

I remember when it was a RNAS before RAF then Royal Signals.

James Fennell
James Fennell
4 days ago
Reply to  Andrew Munro

Yes RAF Coastal Command during the war, then RNAS with Sea Hawks and Gannets were based there from 50s-70s, then 1 TWU and OCU Hunters moved there from Chivenor in 1974 (while Chivenor was rebuilt),and Hunters and Whirlwinds replaced by Hawks and SAR Sea Kings. 1 TWU remained at Brawdy and 2 TWU went to Chivenor after it was reopened in 1979.

Will
Will
1 month ago

This shouldn’t be located in Wales as there is a growing separatist movement, Yes Cymru, and there is a growing likelihood – alongside Scotland – that the country will sadly leave the UK Union at some stage in the near-future. Major projects like these should be located in England, i.e. East Anglia, Salisbury Plain or Dartmoor, for instance. I would’ve said Northern England, but they already have Fylingdales, etc. Thoughts?

MikeR
MikeR
1 month ago
Reply to  Will

I would challenge the notion that the severest movement in Cymru 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 is growing. It was soundly defeated at the referendum, and unlike the 1980’s there is no longer any meaningful violent action (fire bombings of holiday cottages). There is a strong Welsh Nationalist political party, and maybe a desire for greater devolution but that does not directly translate into support for separation from the UK.

MikeR
MikeR
1 month ago
Reply to  MikeR

Separatist, not severest!

Oliver
Oliver
1 month ago
Reply to  Will

A lack of investment in Welsh and Scottish industries etc will only spur on independence movements and the legitimacy of their calls for leaving the UK

Wyn Beynon
Wyn Beynon
1 month ago
Reply to  Will

I’m Welsh, don’t worry. It won’t happen. Most Welsh people realise that with such a small population independence is not going happen at time soon.NOT siting it there is more of a risk as it will take away employment and local economic benefits. Anyway when I lived in Carmarthenshire next door to RAF Pembrey, we called Pembrokshire “Little England beyond Wales”!

Andrew Munro
Andrew Munro
1 month ago
Reply to  Wyn Beynon

That Was before they made every school kid in Wales learn to speak Welsh in the 1970s I think? And un heard language scince 1066. In South Pembrokeshire, our governing idiots have no idea of culture.

Wyn Beynon
Wyn Beynon
1 month ago
Reply to  Andrew Munro

Well, my first language is Welsh, because I’m a Beynon and Carmarthenshire and Cardigan and The Gower are crawling with us 😀 That line of Pembrokeshire castles were to keep the English in.😂 It was, of course Viking for a time, but Welsh going back a thousand years before any of that. I’ve no idea about the local government in South Pembs, so no comment. My children were in Welsh education in the 80s and we used both Welsh and English medium schools — I don’t think every child had to learn Welsh back then in English medium schools, but… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
1 month ago
Reply to  Will

Nope.

Andrew
Andrew
1 month ago
Reply to  Will

That’s total rubbish Wales will nver be an independent country no matter what happens it will always be part of the UK, just because some people think it should be independent when the majority are quite happy as things are.
In fact as it stands there are a lot of people not happy with the senedd at the moment who are increasing the number of assembly members

monkey spanker
monkey spanker
1 month ago
Reply to  Will

Very unlikely wales will leave the U.K.
it’s time to leave the independence stuff for the next generation. That’s what was said in Scotland and should apply.
Even if it did happen and wales refused to allow the site to continue it can be moved.

Jim
Jim
1 month ago
Reply to  monkey spanker

Exactly, referendum was had people voted to stay end of story.

Jim
Jim
1 month ago
Reply to  Will

And what of the growing separatist movements in “regional” England. Perhaps we should locate all military instillation’s in SW1 just to be sure.

Jonathan
Jonathan
1 month ago

Interesting calling it deep space advances radar as is really is hyperbolic nonsense…deep space starts and is defined as starting as 0.01AU from earth which is 930,000miles….so a radar that can see 22,000miles into orbit is not a deep space radar in any shape or form…I’m call BS on the name if not the function and need. I assume it’s perforce is actually better than 22,000 or else it’s flawed, as GSO is actually around 22,300 miles and since GSO is where all the telecommunications sats sit…you really want to be looking out just beyond 22,000miles…I’m assuming no one is… Read more »

DaveyB
DaveyB
1 month ago
Reply to  Jonathan

The big problem is that the radar is ground based and therefore subject to the problems of transmitting through the atmosphere and then the magnetosphere. Which attenuates the signal.

For true “deep space” radar surveillance you need to place the radar in space.

Jonathan
Jonathan
1 month ago
Reply to  DaveyB

Indeed you would need to throw up a spaces based radar..sort of like the old soviet RORSATs although not such a future hazard to humanity…..interesting spaced base radar fact..the only way to get the power output needed for the RORSATs radar was to power them with a nuclear reactor…as the RORSATs were disposable the Soviet’s launched loads of them…each with its own nuclear reactor…the expended reactors were shot in a higher orbit as the RORSAT decayed.. that higher orbit will last 600 years at which point our descendants will get a lovely message from the Soviet’s in the form of… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Jonathan
Bob
Bob
1 month ago
Reply to  Jonathan

A half life of a billion years means it poses little hazard, it’s the fission products and transuranic’s you have to worry about.

David
David
30 days ago
Reply to  Bob

The longer the half life, the GREATER the hazard!

monkey spanker
monkey spanker
1 month ago

So aukus is to preserve peace in the indo pacific.
U.K. will need to up its game to have more stuff to actually put in the indo pacific.
Permanent presence is needed as any less is seen as poking your nose in when stuff deploys.

Jim
Jim
1 month ago
Reply to  monkey spanker

Much of our Indo pacific capability is in the gulf where we have two naval facilities and 6 warships operating. This is also the furthest point for the USN to operate from so make sense for us to cover while they operate in the pacific closer to their industrial base. Basing at-least one if not two SSN’s in Perth should be a priority. This may even save the RN on boat time as they won’t have to transit to the Indian Ocean anymore leavening 5 Astute to cover the Atlantic and Med. Forward basing frigates has saved the RN massively… Read more »

lonpfrb
lonpfrb
30 days ago
Reply to  Jim

Surely we can rotate crews by air though not all on the same aircraft..

Nigel Harvey
Nigel Harvey
1 month ago

DARC is good news, and on the assumption that it operates as touted, will be an excellent seamless component of the use of directed energy weaponry (see deep data nz) and our own UK contribution.
A win win win for Aukus. You have to remember, if you want to protect your resources and economic interests (maritime and space based directed energy weaponry) these have to be a better and advanced deterrent than any adversaries.