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[infowar.de] USA verlieren Monopol bei Satellitenspionage
... und machen sie die üblichen Sorgen deswegen - "Saddam Hussein"
taucht natürlich auch auf.
Zum Demokratisierungspotenzial von frei verfügbaren Satellitenbildern
vgl. Olivier Minkwitz in telepolis:
Bird's-Eye View Not So Rare
2:20 p.m. April 8, 2002 PDT
WASHINGTON -- Pictures from sharp-eyed satellites, once the domain of
the United States and Russia, are becoming so easy to obtain that the
military may have
to alter its strategies knowing adversaries with a minimum of know-how
and money can be watching.
Perhaps a half-dozen countries as well as some private companies have
spy satellites that, while not as good as those used by the United
States, are able to
supply solid military intelligence.
"The unique space-borne advantage that the U.S. has enjoyed over the
past few decades is eroding as more countries including China and India
field increasingly sophisticated reconnaissance satellites," CIA
Director George J. Tenet said in a recent Senate hearing.
Tenet said adversaries are quickly learning how to take advantage.
"Foreign military, intelligence and terrorist organizations are
exploiting this along with commercially available navigation and
communications services to enhance the planning and conduct of their
operations," he said.
In the past, only Moscow had satellite capability approaching that of
the United States.
Now, with its own spy satellites, China would be able to learn of the
location and composition of a U.S. carrier battle group dispatched
during a potential dispute
Eleven years ago, the United States threatened an amphibious assault on
Iraq from the Persian Gulf before hitting Iraq's army with a "left hook"
from the western
flank. If Iraqi President Saddam Hussein had had access to the kind of
commercially available satellite imagery now for sale, it's conceivable
he could have moved
his troops to meet the coalition's surprise land assault.
The latest advances in foreign countries are largely the result of their
research rather than technology purchases or espionage, experts said.
The United States
pioneered much of the technology; now, other countries are replicating
"We're losing our monopoly," said James Lewis, a former Commerce and
State Department space policy expert now with the Center for Strategic
Studies. "After the war in the Persian Gulf, other countries figured out
it was really good to have space capabilities."
U.S. military satellites remain the best -- they can discern far more
detail and collect more images. Their numbers allow them to take
pictures more frequently of
a given area. A new generation of spy satellites, part of a project
called "Future Imagery Architecture," is planned.
But now that other countries have access to high-resolution imagery,
they can count tanks, track fleets and acquire other information useful
in predicting U.S.
That means the military will have to practice the same "denial and
deception" techniques adversaries have used to avoid detection by U.S.
experts say. Tanks are camouflaged under trees. Secret projects are
hidden in buildings when a reconnaissance satellite is overhead.
During the first months of the Afghan war, the United States simply
bought exclusive access to the right parts of the orbit of the Ikonos
satellite, then the best
commercial satellite in the skies. This prevented anyone else from
having a look at Afghanistan, and the U.S. company that runs Ikonos,
Space Imaging, was
happy to sell.
It's unclear if the U.S. government will do that in future wars. While
it can exercise "shutter control" over U.S.-owned satellites,
foreign-owned satellites are
under no such restriction. Foreign companies also may not want to sell
imagery solely to the Americans.
Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas), who has studied these issues, suggested
the military develop ways to jam satellite transmissions and prevent
from receiving the pictures.
"The more information an adversary has, the more vulnerable we are," he
said. "We have to think about jamming and other capabilities at the
Both the United States and the former Soviet Union worked on weapons
that would bring down spy satellites in the event of a major war. But
interest in those
technologies has waned.
James also said he worries that the United States is losing its edge in
building the best satellites. New restrictions on exports of satellite
slowing the transfer of sophisticated technology, have also caused U.S.
manufacturers to close, he said. These rules were enacted after an
investigation into the
Clinton administration's decision to let two U.S. aerospace companies
export satellites to be launched atop Chinese rockets.
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