NATO space force: Alliance is playing catch-up, warns Tobias Ellwood MP

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However, Tobias Ellwood, chairman of Parliament’s Defence Committee, has said the move should have been made a long time ago, warning that conflict was “spilling into space”. Mr Stoltenberg outlined his proposal for the centre, in Allied Air Command in Ramstein, Germany, which he said would coordinate efforts to protect vital satellite constellations.

It’s good to see but we are johnny-come-latelys here, we really are

Tobias Ellwood MP

Mr Ellwood, Tory MP for Bournemouth East, told Express.co.uk: “It’s good to see but we are johnny-come-latelys here, we really are.

“NATO should have been pursuing this – it has been searching for a role and and a sense of identity and purpose.

“They are trying to keep the cohesion together and the changing character of conflict is spilling into space.

“It has been actually since the start of the Cold War.

“So this is welcome news but let’s be honest – we’ve got a significant amount of catch-up to do compared with China and Russia.

“They now include space as part of their military doctrine and their protocols for both defence and attack will include the use, deployment, protection and destruction of assets in space.

Mr Ellwood added: “Space is now the ultimate high ground.

“Just as we saw in the Battle of Britain, if you hold the high ground you are able to affect operations beneath.

“The high ground is now space which gives you the ability to see, and to communicate.

“Ultimately it gives you control over weapons systems through GPS.

“Everything would grind to a halt if GPS were switched off and the same applies to our military capability.

“We are increasingly dependent – precision guided missiles, communications, defence systems are all reliant on the cyber and space world and we are always vulnerable.”

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Assessing Mr Trump’s Space Force, which has been the subject of significant ridicule, Mr Ellwood said: “I welcomed it when it came out.

“It does seem far-fetched but the whole purpose is to recognise that there is a distinction.

“There is a difference between space and the traditional Air Force and in my view it does require another service.”

Mr Ellwood acknowledged the UK, which has plans to build both vertical and horizontal space ports, has not yet got the capability to launch into space, adding: “We’ve got some catching-up to do there too.”

Speaking at a press conference today, Mr Stoltenberg saidL “NATO continues to adapt in all domains.

“Including in space, which is becoming more crowded and competitive every year.”

He warned: “Some nations – including Russia and China – are developing systems which could blind, disable or shoot down satellites.”

Space was was essential for NATO’s ability to navigate, communicate, and detect missile launches, while fast, effective and secure satellite communications are vital for troops, he said.

Mr Stoltenberg added: “Tomorrow, I expect ministers will agree to establish a new NATO Space Centre at Allied Air Command in Ramstein, Germany.

“This will be a focal point to support NATO missions with communications and satellite imagery; share information about potential threats to satellites; and coordinate our activities in this crucial domain.

He stressed: “Our aim is not to militarise space.

“But to increase NATO’s awareness of challenges in space, and our ability to deal with them.”

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