The Ministry of Defence has revealed that discussions are underway with the Americans to introduce an upgraded radar system to track objects deep in space.
RAF Fylingdales in North Yorkshire is currently a key strategic element in the battle to contain the threat of missile strikes against the West, although its existing capabilities would be outstripped by the new technology.
The head of the RAF, Air Chief Marshal Sir Michael Wigston, has confirmed a “number of locations” are under consideration for where the new radar system could be situated, prompting calls from Conservative MPs to upgrade RAF Fylingdales rather than establish a new base elsewhere in the country.
The MP for Thirsk and Malton, Kevin Hollinrake, whose constituency includes the air base high on the North York Moors, said: “RAF Fylingdales is not just a key strategic asset, but it is also hugely important to the local economy.
“The base employs a lot of people, and there is also a wider impact on supply chains and companies that are associated with serving it. It is always far less controversial to upgrade an existing facility rather than look towards decommissioning it and building a new base.”
The US Space Force is developing a global system to monitor objects up to 22,000 miles from Earth amid concerns about the new arms race developing in space.
Both the US and the UK have warned that China and Russia are developing weapons that could be used to take out a satellite.
The new Deep Space Advanced Radar Capability (DARC) will require three radar stations around the globe with possible sites in the UK, US and Australia.
The US already operates an early warning system to detect ballistic missiles in space, which includes the facility at RAF Fylingdales.
However, that can only detect objects up to 12,000 miles away, while DARC would look much further into space.
The MP for Scarborough and Whitby, Robert Goodwill, told The Yorkshire Post that he would have talks with the Minister for Defence Procurement, Jeremy Quin.
Many of the 350-strong workforce at RAF Fylingdales live in Whitby and the surrounding area, providing a major boost to the local economy.
Mr Goodwill said: “I would hope that the Government will commit to upgrading RAF Fylingdales, as it has remained such an important facility over the years.
“Both Kevin and myself are proud to have such an important base in the local area that is helping with global security.”
The Ministry of Defence said no decisions have been taken as to where the new radar system could potentially be installed in the UK, but added the talks with the US have “so far been positive”.