James Black

Photo of James Black
European Lead, Space Enterprise Initiative; Research Leader
Cambridge Office


M.Sc./M.A. in international relations and international security, London School of Economics and Sciences Po Paris; B.A. (Hons) in history, University of Cambridge

Media Resources

This researcher is available for interviews.

To arrange an interview, contact RAND Europe Media Relations at +44 (1223) 353 329, x2560, or email europeanmedia@rand.org.

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James Black coordinates the defence strategy, policy and capabilities research and wargaming portfolio at RAND Europe. He also serves as European lead for the RAND Space Enterprise Initiative, a global hub for RAND's space-related research, and capability lead for the Centre for Defence Economics and Acquisition. Beyond RAND, he is also a non-resident NATO 2030 Fellow. 

Black's research focuses on strategy, policy and decision making in the context of uncertainty, complexity and rapid change. He has led a wide range of studies for the UK Ministry of Defence (DCDC, Dstl, DE&S, Strategic Command, Army, Navy and RAF), EU, NATO and the Australian, Finnish, Norwegian and U.S. defence agencies. He is also actively involved in wargaming, including as lead designer of strategic exercises at the Royal College of Defence Studies.

Research topics of interest include the future of UK, EU, NATO and European defence; strategy and geopolitics; force development and acquisition; defence innovation and industrial base issues; horizon scanning; the impact of new technologies (e.g. autonomy, AI/ML, space); and emerging transnational security issues (e.g., Arctic security). His research has been featured in BBC News, Financial Times, Politico, Reuters and other outlets, as well as academic journals, and he has presented oral evidence to the UK Defence Select Committee.

Prior to RAND, Black worked in the UK Parliament. He holds a double M.A.-M.Sc. in international ecurity from Sciences Po and the LSE and a B.A. Hons in history from the University of Cambridge.

Concurrent Non-RAND Positions

NATO 2030 Fellow

Recent Projects

  • Strategic Analysis for UK Development, Concepts and Doctrine Centre (DCDC)
  • Support to Development of Future UK Combat Air Strategy to 2040+
  • Horizon Scanning Emerging Technologies for Defence and Security
  • Wargaming for Royal College of Defence Studies
  • Shaping National and Defence Space Strategy to 2030+

Honors & Awards

  • RAND Europe President's Award

Recent Media Appearances

Interviews: Global Defence Technology; Naval Technology


  • HMS <em>Queen Elizabeth</em> returns to Portsmouth after her maiden operational deployment in Portsmouth, United Kingdom, December 9, 2021, p

    Ready for Take-Off? The Next Generation of UK Maritime Air Power

    The recent deployment of a Carrier Strike Group represents a marked shift in the United Kingdom's ambitions and capabilities for power projection in both the maritime and air domains. The United Kingdom is hoping to work closely with NATO Allies to enhance the Alliance's collective ability to deploy maritime airpower as part of a flexible posture that can deter and respond to threats both close to home and far afield.

    Dec 10, 2021 LUFTLED

  • Soldiers from the Norwegian Army prepare their tank during a military drill in Setermoen, Norway, October 30, 2019, photo by Stoyan Nenov/Reuters

    How Norway's Allies View Its Defense Challenges and Opportunities

    Norway's Ministry of Defence will shortly publish its next Long Term Plan, which outlines how the Armed Forces, in tandem with other elements of government and society, can best address the threats to Norway. Other countries can learn from how Norway chooses to tackle emerging challenges, and can benefit from its lessons learned.

    Apr 16, 2020 Defense News

  • British Royal Marine commandos participate in a hostile scenario during exercise at Diego Garcia, British Indian Ocean Territory, April 12, 2012, photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class April D. Adams/U.S. Navy

    A Ruling from the Hague Threatens a U.S. and British Military Base in Asia

    A remote and obscure tropical atoll in the Indian Ocean would seem an unlikely stage for the latest act of the United Kingdom's unfolding Brexit drama and the newest challenge to U.S. global power projection. But a nonbinding verdict in The Hague calls into question the legitimacy of the UK's administration and the major U.S. military presence on the islands' largest atoll, Diego Garcia.

    Apr 1, 2019 The National Interest

  • London skyline with overlay of the UK and EU flags

    'Zero-sum' Approach to Defence and Security During Brexit Negotiations Risks a Less Secure UK and EU

    It is in the interest of neither the UK nor the EU to have a 'zero sum' approach to defense and security during Brexit negotiations. Both sides have plenty to lose if it turns into a 'messy divorce.'

    Apr 4, 2018 UK Ministry of Defence's 2018 Defence Suppliers Guidebook

  • A SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket lifts off from historic launch pad 39-A at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, U.S., February 6, 2018

    Our Reliance on Space Tech Means We Should Prepare for the Worst

    Space-enabled connectivity, technology, and services support a diverse array of political, military and economic activities, many of which modern life on Earth relies upon and which the public often takes for granted. How prepared is global society to deal with the growing reliance on this technology and to mitigate associated risks?

    Mar 12, 2018 Defense News

  • A French gendarme stands guard near a line of lorries as migrants wait in bushes in the hopes of boarding a truck to make their way across the Channel to Britain, near Calais, France, Janaury 21, 2016

    Is Macron Set to 'Take Back Control' of UK-France Border After Brexit?

    As French President Emmanuel Macron arrives in London for the 35th UK-France Summit, there is growing French discomfort with arrangements at the UK-France border. The UK's decision to leave the European Union has added new urgency to this already fraught debate.

    Jan 17, 2018 Prospect Magazine

  • The new Smart concept autonomous car Vision EQ fortwo model is presented during the Frankfurt Motor Show (IAA) in Frankfurt, Germany, September 12, 2017

    Autonomous Vehicles: Terrorist Threat or Security Opportunity?

    Terrorist groups that track developments in technology could be considering using self-driving cars in place of suicide bombers or for ramming attacks. But autonomous vehicle capabilities offer a range of potential benefits to law enforcement and security operations, too.

    Jan 3, 2018 The Cipher Brief

  • Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May meeting with Democratic Unionist Party leader Arlene Foster and others inside 10 Downing Street, London, June 26, 2017

    Northern Ireland Is Now at the Forefront of Brexit

    After Prime Minister Theresa May's unexpected failure to win a majority in June's snap election, she is now reliant on Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party to shore up a minority Conservative government. As Brexit negotiations begin, European politicians should refresh their knowledge of Northern Irish politics.

    Jun 29, 2017 HuffPost UK

  • Gibraltar profile with Euro flag

    This Latest Gibraltar Dispute Is a Sign of Things to Come

    In many ways, Gibraltar is the first Brexit issue where both the UK and EU find themselves stuck between a rock and a hard place. How this diplomatic problem is resolved now could help set the tone for Brexit negotiations during the next two years.

    Apr 5, 2017 Prospect Magazine

  • Europol headquarters in The Hague, Netherlands

    How Will Defence and Security Be Affected by Brexit?

    Trade and migration issues have dominated Brexit discussions. But the UK's decision to leave the EU also creates challenges for security, deepening uncertainty at a time when little certainty exists.

    Mar 16, 2017 Prospect Magazine