High Wycombe, United Kingdom –
The UK has joined the Joint Task Force-Space Defense Commercial Operations Cell (JCO) global construct by standing up a national JCO-UK cell, June 26, 2023.
The United Kingdom Space Operations Center (UKSpOC) will be a key partner and has expanded its Space Domain Awareness (SDA) capability to support its national mission to protect and defend UK and partner space assets.
The JCO-UK cell is looking forward to coordinating the regional JCO-Meridian Cell with other like-minded nations.
“I’m delighted that we can announce the stand-up of the National JCO-UK cell from 26 June,” said AVM Godfrey, Commander, UK Space Command. “This capability marks a step change in our joint space operations capacity and further solidifies the UK/US, and wider coalition, bonds in the space domain. Having partnered with the US on Space Domain Awareness since 1963 when the radar at RAF Fylingdales was first declared operational, we continue to build on that enduring partnership by establishing the first national JCO Cell outside of the US and look forward to co-ordinating the regional JCO-Meridian cell with other like-minded nations.”
JCO-US was established in 2020 to augment the National Space Defense Center’s protect-and-defend mission, providing unclassified indications of orbital activity derived through public research, commercial SDA sensors and analytical tools.
“The stand-up of JCO-UK marks a step forward in building out our follow-the-sun model for 24/7 operations,” said U.S. Space Force Brig. Gen. Bythewood, JTF-SD commander. “Each Ally and partner brings people, resources, or capability that makes the JCO stronger, leveraging ever-increasing commercial capabilities to ensure norms of behavior in space.”
From June 26, JCO-UK will assist in the JCO’s ‘follow-the-sun’ model, incorporating eight-hour operations shifts starting at local European time zones, allowing each cell to operate during normal business hours.
“As JCO-UK crew, we are very excited to begin daily operations. It has been a privilege to work with partner nations and learn from our colleagues at JCO-Americas,” said Flt Lt Nick Hallchurch, JCO-UK team lead. “Our focus will be to produce timely, high-quality Notices to Space Operators (NOTSO) during our operating hours, a key step in our collective ambition to deliver 24-hour ‘follow-the-sun’ operations.”
The JTF-SD, through the JCO, is maintaining and expanding its operational support by adding commercial SDA sensors and analytics for their protect and defend mission, enabling allied and partner nations to contribute resources to mission-share and burden-share in support of 24/7 operations globally.
A team of JCO, Space Systems Command (SSC), and Air Force Research Lab (AFRL) DRAGON Army personnel conducted an operational readiness check of JCO-UK’s capabilities to include communications, network connectivity, commercial data access, access to DRAGON Army-developed JCO tools as well as space domain awareness analysis tools.
“This initial expansion of commercial SDA support to the JTF-SD mission set is another milestone in the USSF strategy of ‘exploit what you have, buy what you can, and build only what you must,’” said Barb Golf, SSC strategic advisor for SDA. “JCO-UK has been leading the charge into global commercial operations, and our lessons learned together will help us deploy new capabilities faster for our combined missions.”
The JCO anticipates moving to 24/5 global operations with partner nations, including the U.K., in fiscal year 2024.