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Wales earmarked as preferred location for new deep space radar station

02 Dec 2023 3 minute read
NASA’s Deep Space Network facility at Goldstone, California. Photo Lights In The Dark is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

Wales has been earmarked as the preferred location for a new deep space radar station which the UK Government says will transform national security.

Cawdor Barracks in Pembrokeshire has been identified as the preferred UK site, conditional on Environmental Impact Assessment and Town planning approval.

In March this year an application was submitted on behalf of the Secretary of State for Defence to Pembrokeshire council requesting a scoping opinion for the potential development on part of the barracks.

Defence Secretaries

The Deep Space Advanced Radar Capability (DARC) programme – unveiled by the respective Defence Secretaries of Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States (AUKUS)- will provide around-the-clock all-weather capabilities, that will increase the alliance’s’ member ability to monitor objects up to 22,000 miles (36,000 kilometres) away from earth.

The programme will see a global network of three ground-based radar bases established to be jointly operated and assist in space-traffic management and contribute to the global surveillance of satellites in deep space.

The unique geographic positioning of AUKUS nations means that DARC can provide global coverage, including detecting potential threats to defence or civilian space systems.

Announcing the project, UK Defence Secretary, Grant Shapps said: “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.”

British Army Signals Regiment

Cawdor Barracks is currently the home to a British Army Signals Regiment which is due to relocate from 2028.

It was an operational airfield between 1944 and 1992, being used by both the Royal Air Force (when it was known as RAF Brawdy) and by Royal Navy’s Fleet Air Arm (RNAS Brawdy), before closing in 1992.

The site was reactivated in 1995 by the British Army and became Cawdor Barracks, home to 14 Signal Regiment, the army’s electronic warfare unit.

Brawdy Airfield. Photo Robin Lucas/ CC BY-SA 2.0

Retention of the Base by the MOD for DARC is expected to boost the local economy, creating employment during the construction phase and providing up to 100 longer-term jobs.

Alongside DARC’s defence benefits, it will also be able to monitor and protect the essential services that rely on satellites in space, including communications and navigation.

Secretary of State for Wales David TC Davies said: “The Ministry of Defence and the Armed Forces have long had a hugely significant presence in Wales and the likelihood that this presence will continue at Cawdor Barracks is fantastic news.

“The proposed DARC project will provide jobs and bolster the local economy and underlines once again the vital role that Wales continues to play in the UK’s defence.

“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 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.

The announcement of the project today (2 December) follows the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding in September 2023.


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Neil Anderson
Neil Anderson
6 months ago

Yes, fantastic news! Another nuclear target in Cymru! It is obvious that the protection that nuclear-armed states claim for themselves is illusory. Far better we adopt a neutral posture in world affairs and work diplomatically to resolve conflicts than participate in them. We are a peaceful people, less willing now to sacrifice our young men and women in pursuit of dubious military adventurism I suggest. When we can work for peace, we should. There is no nobility in killing others, especially women and children in Ukraine and Gaza. Just futility. I am not a christian, but I can readily recognise… Read more »

Linda Jones
Linda Jones
6 months ago
Reply to  Neil Anderson

Well said.
If England ie Westminster want this then place it in England, preferrably in the South East.
Interesting how many major nuclear targets are either in Scotland or, soon to be, in Wales. I hope planning permission is refused.

Frank
Frank
6 months ago
Reply to  Linda Jones

Yes, let them keep their junk in England. They just love the word “war” and draw everyone else in.

Riki
Riki
6 months ago
Reply to  Linda Jones

Indeed, but thankfully Russia has already stated that if the UK (England) were to be a target, Scotland and Wales would not bear the brunt of their awful decisions. They know exactly how badly the Briton and Scoti are treated by the Anglo Saxon.

Sarah Good
Sarah Good
6 months ago
Reply to  Riki

They are just trying to drive a wedge. If you think Russia would be altruistic conquerors that would leave us alone, I have some magic beans you might like

Grievous
Grievous
6 months ago
Reply to  Riki

Exactly

James
James
6 months ago
Reply to  Neil Anderson

Came here to comment on how the conspiracy theory lot would be going mad over this. Simply thank you

Last edited 6 months ago by James
Sikejsudjek
Sikejsudjek
6 months ago
Reply to  Neil Anderson

Ukraine got rid of its nuclear weapons. Not worked out too well for them has it!

Mawkernewek
Mawkernewek
6 months ago

“global radar network (DARC), based across the UK, US and Australia”

The UK, USA and Australia, that is the whole world according to the Global Britain Brexiteers!

Jeff
Jeff
6 months ago

Wonder whose constituency this is in.

In todays world the chances are it will have remote capabilities and I wonder at the genuine number of local jobs boost as it will be military and they go where they are sent. And DARC is US led and Grumman look to have the contract, not a UK firm?? So is this a US led initiative and we are tacked on the back?

Frank
Frank
6 months ago

Does that mean that Pembrokeshire could become a target? I suppose it’s far enough away from London and the south east!!

hdavies15
hdavies15
6 months ago
Reply to  Frank

Sadly it always was. Back in the first cold war the refining capabilities on the Haven would have been neutralised by a single strike. Early 1990’s brought some kind of relief although rogue weapons passing into wrong hands could have been a much lower level of probability. Now it’s back well it’s been back for a while. The number of new owners of WMS’s increases this grim probability once again.

Jeff
Jeff
6 months ago
Reply to  hdavies15

Bit resource intensive when a cruise missile or several would do it.
Might set your mind at ease to know that the Russians have copious and detailed maps of the UK in case of invasion.
Who knows what is in that mad mans head. That is why he needs to be stopped and we keep our big stick handy.

hdavies15
hdavies15
6 months ago
Reply to  Jeff

I was only “interested” back in the early 1970’s when big nukes were the main bits of WMD’s. The cruise range was I think a later development but I had stopped paying attention by then. USSR always had detailed maps of UK going back to the early cold war years.

Ernie The Smallholder
Ernie The Smallholder
6 months ago
Reply to  hdavies15

Would it benefit Wales as an independent nation ?
If it doesn’t then we should reject it.

Wales is a small nation of around 3 million population.
Are we really a target from an imperialist power ?

Does the Welsh government have a view ?
Does the WG even have a decision on our own destiny ?

Jeff
Jeff
6 months ago

Depends which way the wind is blowing. I can see a need for this but not the political claims of mr davies.

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
6 months ago

Besides Whitehall in the past putting in Britain’s only marine nature reserve an oil refinery and a nuclear plant in Trywsfynydd now further blight the landscape of Cymru with an ugly radar dish. The Conservatives have a motto: “If it’s an eyesore, dump it in Wales.”

Riki
Riki
6 months ago

No thanks – anything that makes Wales more important to England (no, not UK) is an absolute No from me. We don’t want their Prisons, their resorts, etc. How about we have that Lagoon built? How about projects that are going to make Wales self sufficient!

Dr Jonathan F Dean
Dr Jonathan F Dean
6 months ago

A wonderful “visual intrusion” to the National Park!

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