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UK’s exit from EU’s Galileo satellite project is a security risk, says Airbus boss

UK’s exit from EU's Galileo satellite project is a security risk, says Airbus boss

The chief executive of Airbus has warned that the UK’s departure from the $11.3bn European Galileo satellite project is a “serious blow to the EU’s common security and defense ambition.”

Tom Enders tweeted on Monday: “Don’t those talking about a ‘European army’ know that the UK is one of only two serious military powers in Europe?”

As the Europe’s global navigation satellite system, Galileo is designed to be a rival to the US GPS system. It will not only support mobile phones and satnavs but also provide vital location information for the military and businesses.

The project began in 1999, with the EU aiming to create a network of 30 satellites orbiting the Earth that would ensure its members were not reliant on the US, Russian and Chinese systems. However, the UK has decided to quit the programme over concerns that it would not be able to influence its development following Brexit.

Among the most crucial parts of the system is the Public Regulated Service (PRS), an encrypted navigation service used by government agencies, the armed forces and emergency services. Much of the PRS was developed by UK scientists and engineers.

However, the EU has insisted that the PRS can only be accessed by EU members. British contractors were told they would be locked out of work on the highly sensitive project after the UK leaves the bloc in March. 

The UK departure from Galileo comes after it invested $1.5bn into the scheme.

On Friday, Theresa May said that leaving the Galileo project was the correct choice.

“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,” she stated.

“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.” She concluded.

Last week, Airbus UK had revealed that it had relocated 80 jobs to sites on the continent so that it could finish its work on the Galileo project.  

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