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They ain’t kidding

Posted by Richard Friday, October 22, 2004

Anybody who might have the slightest doubts about the US intentions in relation to the EU’s Galileo satellite constellation (see earlier Blog), should it represent a threat to their interests, might care to read US Air Force Doctrine Document 2-2.1, issued as recently as 2 August 2004, entitled "Counterspace Operations".

Not only does it make their policy very clear, in a foreword to the document, the Honourable Peter B Teets, Undersecretary of the USAF states that "space is the high ground" and talks about "denying that high ground to our adverseries".

In that same foreword, he also asks: "What will we do ten 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?"

Well, the answer has been given. Either jam it or shoot the satellites out of the sky. And there is no way that this should be considered to be bluff. The USAF has already developed a range of "micro-satellites" designed to "destroy enemy spacecraft", so small that ten can be loaded in a reusable military orbiter and despatched into space.

A test satellite, coded XSS-10, was successfully launched on 29 January 2003 and the contract to build its successor, XSS-11, with a more specific sensor payload already has been awarded. When Galileo finally takes to the skies, therefore, the Yanks will be ready and waiting to wipe it out of existence.

This really is quite an extraordinary situation, not least for the British government, which is co-partner in the Galileo project. It is still aligning itself with the EU commission in arguing publicly that Galileo is a civilian system but, if Taiwan does go "hot" at some time in the future, it will be in an interesting situation.

On the one hand, it will have to explain to its closest ally why it helped fund a space system that threatened American lives while, on the other, joining in with its "European partners" in expressing outrage at having its property blown apart by those American aggressors.

Should do wonders for the "special relationship" that successive British governments have so valued, doncha think?