Meanwhile, Dr Bleddynn Bowen, a lecturer in international relations at the University of Leicester, has said Britain should avoid copying US President Donald Trump, who earlier this year unveiled plans for a dedicated Space Force for the United States.
In an article entitled The RAF and Space Doctrine: A Second Century and a Second Space Age published by the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) think tank, Dr Bowen explained that with the world increasingly dependent on satellite technology, the concept of space warfare has implications for land and sea as well as the air.
He wrote: “Is it right that the RAF – a service predominantly concerned with the air – should dominate the use of another strategic environment for the land and maritime services?
“Recently, the US Congress stalled an attempt to legislate an independent Space Corps within the USAF, claiming that the USAF’s air-minded culture inhibits the growth and integration of space power on its own terms and shapes the development of satellites to the needs of the USAF first, and the US Army, Navy, Marines and Coast Guard second.
“Congress is now investigating this possibility and will report next year. Subsequently, President Donald Trump voiced his support for a ‘Space Force’.”
Dr Bowen said in considering the question of how the UK could best operate in military space, the Ministry of Defence needed to consider which service was best placed to integrate space power to the best possible effect, suggesting that in the case of the US, it might well be the case that the USAF, rather than Mr Trump’s “Space Force”, was the best choice.
He added: “As resources and prestige may accrue to space power in the RAF’s second century, it should avoid the pitfalls the USAF experienced between promoting space power, but not to the degree that it spins off a new service.”
He explained that the RAF has no “inherent intellectual monopoly” on space and suggested that calls for an increasing joint approach to space could challenge the RAF’s position as the lead service in British military space.
He said: “Unlike the USAF, the RAF does not oversee a dominant military space budget and a fleet of launch vehicles, satellites and counterspace systems.
“As the RAF is still rather small in terms of direct capability in space, it may not be too difficult for strong-willed reform from civilian masters, space advocates within the RAF, and the support of the army and navy, to move British military space to Joint Forces Command.”
Nevertheless, he added: “The RAF already is the de facto military space service. If the RAF is the best route to integrate space throughout the other services, then the RAF’s second century may become dominated by events beyond the skies as space power proliferates, and may challenge its natural focus on airpower.
“It remains to be seen whether the RAF will keep its place as the lead military space service in its second century and in the Second Space Age.”
Mr Bowen said space power was coming of age in tactical and operational military considerations, and the British space economy is booming.
But he warned that position of the RAF “at the vanguard of British space power” in its second century should not be taken for granted.
He stressed: “In the future, more countries will have targets worth attacking in space; but more countries will also have capabilities that endanger British security.
“Whatever the UK chooses to do on Earth depends on its access to space services and space-based intelligence.
“London neglects its own and others’ military and economic potential in outer space at its peril.”
Speaking in May, Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson announced that the RAF would be “taking the lead” as Britain looks to “counter the intensifying threats to our everyday life that are emerging in space”
He added: “Satellite technology is not just a crucial tool for our Armed Forces but vital to our way of life, whether that be access to our mobile phones, the internet or television.
“It is essential we protect our interests and assets from potential adversaries who seek to cause major disruption and do us harm.”