The Prime Minister, Theresa May, has confirmed the UK will not use Galileo for defence or critical national infrastructure after Brexit.
Instead, the UK will explore options to build its own Global Navigation Satellite System that can help guide military drones, run energy networks and provide essential services for civilian smart phones. It will also work with the US to continue accessing its trusted GPS system.
UK Space Agency (UKSA) is currently leading the work, with the full support of the Ministry of Defence, and any British system will provide both open and encrypted signals, giving it the same range of commercial and security applications as GPS and Galileo.
British Armed Forces were due to have access to Galileo’s encrypted system when it is fully operational in 2026. However the National Cyber Security Centre and Ministry of Defence have concluded it would not be in the UK’s security interests to use the system’s secure elements if it had not been fully involved in their development.
In August, the Prime Minister tasked British engineering and aerospace experts to develop options and set aside £92 million for the plans. Since then over fifty UK companies have expressed interest in the project and a series of key contracts are now being tendered.
The Prime Minister said: “I have been clear from the outset that the UK will remain firmly committed to Europe’s collective security after Brexit.
“But given the Commission’s decision to bar the UK from being fully involved in developing all aspects of Galileo it is only right that we find alternatives.
“I cannot let our Armed Services depend on a system we cannot be sure of. That would not be in our national interest. And as a global player with world-class engineers and steadfast allies around the world we are not short of options.”
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