UK to buy own sat nav system after being frozen out of EU satellite due to Brexit

26 June 2020, 07:32 | Updated: 26 June 2020, 07:39

Artist view of a Galileo Full Operational Capability (FOC) satellite. Britain could launch its own satellite navigation system, as the country faces being frozen out of key elements of an EU project after Brexit.
Artist view of a Galileo Full Operational Capability (FOC) satellite. Britain could launch its own satellite navigation system, as the country faces being frozen out of key elements of an EU project after Brexit. Picture: PA
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

The UK will buy its own satellite navigation system to support defence and critical national infrastructure projects, according to reports.

The Prime Minister and the Chancellor have reportedly signed off on Britain purchasing a 20 per cent stake in OneWeb, a satellite operator.

The UK will no longer have access to the European Union's Galileo satellite navigation system because of Brexit.

Boris Johnson has pledged to "to put up about £500 million" of taxpayer money for the purchase, after OneWeb filed for bankruptcy in March in the US, after failing to secure new funding.

According to reports in the Financial Times, which said the funds were part of a larger private sector consortium bid.

The company has its headquarters in Britain and has 74 satellites in orbit along with plans for hundreds more.

OneWeb launched a number of satellites in March.

The FT also said Mr Johnson's chief adviser Dominic Cummings was "instrumental" in pushing for the UK's involvement in the bid, as the Government seeks a system that will support mobile phones and provide vital location information for the military and businesses.

Previously, the UK aimed to build its own global navigation satellite system, at a cost estimated by independent experts of £3-£5 billion.

Then-prime minister Theresa May said in December 2018 that Britain expected to work with the US and other "Five Eyes" partners.

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