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  • Lou Novacheck
    *20121011-THE NEXT GENERATION SPY SATELLITES* Intelligence Chief Hints At New Spy Satellites; Biggest Change in 30 Years
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 19, 2012

      Intelligence Chief Hints At New Spy Satellites; Biggest Change in 30 Years


      ► AOL Defense / by Colin Clark

      ► Stringer: Frank Slijper / Campaign Against Arms Trade / Groningen NL /

      Oct 12 2012 ► Oct 11.

      The United States has boosted into orbit new spy satellites that mark "the
      most significant change to our overhead architecture in at least three
      decades," said the head of military intelligence, Mike Vickers. Vickers
      also said these National Reconnaissance Office's satellites comprise "a
      truly integrated system of systems for the first time." Sadly for you, dear
      reader, the well known leader of the first war in Afghanistan – the one
      against the Soviets – did not share any other details. Instead, he
      delivered his speech and left the conference at speed.

      I exchanged emails with a Pentagon source who offered this additional bit
      of information: "He was speaking about a new, but classified, overhead
      architecture that will provide greater persistence than ever before."

      For those who don't speak intelligence-speak, that means the satellites can
      see more because they can look at an area for a longer period of time.
      Another source well versed in national security space issues was somewhat
      stumped by Vickers' comments but offered this insight: Perhaps, the source
      said, this is a reference to the new practice of sending aloft sensors and
      other instruments that share a ride on a satellite, known as hosted
      payloads. The classified sensors would go up on a commercial or on a
      government satellite. In the case of the NRO, the sensors would probably be
      highly classified electro-optical sensors (ones that take pictures an
      analyst can look at), very sensitive radars, or sensors that collect data
      from cell phones, telephones and radios, known as signals intelligence
      (SIGINT). This practice allows the NRO to place sensors in orbits it might
      not otherwise gain access to and lets it hide sensors in places a
      prospective enemy might not take into account.

      (Some folks will know about this because Bety Sap, the new director of the
      NRO, will present a highly classified briefing on the topic Friday, Vickers

      In addition to the improvements in the NRO's spy satellites, Vickers told
      Geoint attendees that there's increasing work on machine-to-machine
      intelligence tracking. For example, a sensor surveys an area for a target
      and automatically notifies another sensor when the target is apparently
      spotted. A human is notified, confirms that the machine has found the
      target and tells the machine to automatically track. It does and, given the
      order, kills the target. In the intelligence world this bears the wonderful
      rubric of "activity-based intelligence."

      Couple ABI with recent comments by former NRO Director Bruce Carlson that
      signals intelligence collection has gotten so refined and is now so fast
      that if a suspect cell phone or radio is found it can be tracked and is
      accurate enough that it can used for targeting. Call your mistress, Sheikh
      al Qaeda, and if intelligence can confirm it's you with a high probability,
      then they might find you, track you and kill you with much of the work done
      by sensors and computers.

      Vickers went on to make an apparent reference to what most people call Long
      Range Strike (aka America's new strategic bomber), which he called "the
      operational manifestation" of the strategic shift to the Pacific. Senior
      Air Force officials say the bomber will be manned, but capable of flying
      unmanned. And LRS will probably include UAVs as part of its system. That
      UAV may be what Vickers envisioned when he said the US will develop and
      field "robust and resilient ISR capabilities" that can operate in so-called
      A2AD areas (anti-access/active denial), namely areas where the enemy has
      anti-aircraft weapons and the ability to jam.

      That would mean a major shift from today's Predator, Global Hawk and other
      UAVs (Remotely Piloted Aircraft for Air Force folks), which cannot operate
      in denied airspace because they can be jammed and pretty easily shot down.
      But, as Vickers didn't offer many details, we are just trying to fill in
      the holes.

      Life is illusory and as fleeting as a bubble in a stream.
      ~ from the Diamond Sutra, the oldest printed book known, circa 868 AD

      "Respice post te! Hominem te esse memento! Memento mori!": "Look behind
      you! Remember that you are but a man! Remember that you'll die!”
      ~ Tertullian in his Apologeticus.[3]

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      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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