Leaked USAF Report Targets European GPS Satellites

Update Nov-04-2004: The baseline article for this story has been disputed; John Sheldon of Astropolitics, a space power and policy journal, states that there was no confrontation between US and Europeans on the issue of the Gallileo satellite system being used for military purposes. See his comments here.

Galileo is a set of thirty satellites and associated groundstations that is due to go into operations in 2008, providing a rival to the US Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) network. Galileo is a product of the European Union and the European Space Agency aimed at the lucrative GPS service market.

China became a partner in the Galileo program; peaceful uses include communications for the 2008 Olympics. Military applications are also possible.

According to a leaked US Air Force document written in August, Peter Teets, under-secretary of the USAF wrote:

"What will we do 10 years from now when American lives are put at risk because an adversary chooses to leverage the global positioning system of perhaps the Galileo constellation to attack American forces with precision?"

(From Global Positioning System Satellite Array)

The paper also reported that a disagreement between the US and the EU regarding Galileo at a London conference resulted in a threat to blow up the planned satellites. The European delegates reportedly said that they would not turn off or jam signals from their satellites, even if they were used in a war with the US.

The US has long expressed concerns about the system, which also numbers Russia and Israel as supporters. US and NATO operations that rely on GPS could be compromised; the Galileo system may also interfere with a classified Pentagon positioning system known as M-Code.

Galileo is expected to provide as many as 150,000 jobs throughout Europe. However, it could force countries into a pro-US (GPS) position or an anti-US (Galileo) position.

In his 1976 novel Shockwave Rider, John Brunner refers directly to the capability of destroying satellites in orbit. In the novel, this capability has filtered down from the military (who paid for development) to corporations, who could search for and destroy ("sand") the satellites of rival corporations.

Anti-satellite programs in the United States date from 1963, which saw the deployment of Program 437, which consisted of a Thor Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile with a nuclear warhead. The basic idea was that this missile would be launched in the direction of an enemy satellite and then detonated. Anti-satellite programs in the former Soviet Union started in 1959 with the "Istrebitel Sputnikov" ("satellite destroyer") and resulted in the Polet spacecraft equipped with radar and heat-seeking homing systems in 1964.

See the original story at SpaceDaily.

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