The congressmen urged the National Reconnaissance Agency to accelerate its pilot program for obtaining images from satellites of private companies, including for obtaining data on the situation in Ukraine
The Committee of the US House of Representatives on the Armed Services decided to expand the use of private satellites for reconnaissance, in including the situation in Ukraine.
According to Defense News, congressmen have amended the draft defense budget for fiscal year 2023 (starts October 1). They are proposing to the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) to speed up a pilot program to acquire images from satellites equipped with Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR).
NRO actively used data from SAR satellites of private American companies in Ukraine, including to monitor the course of hostilities and obtain intelligence, which it transmitted to the allies and Kyiv, the newspaper writes.
Satellites equipped with SAR are capable of capturing high-resolution images in any weather and at any time of the day. NRO has its own devices, but the images on them are classified. It takes too long to declassify them and transfer the data to the allies. The US Naval Intelligence has its own large orbital constellation, with the help of which it receives the satellite images it needs. However, for the transfer of data to Kyiv and the allies, it takes time to declassify them. Private company shots can be shared immediately.
In January, NRO signed contracts with five companies: Airbus US, Capella Space and Umbra in California, PredaSAR in Florida, and ICEYE in Finland in US.
In April, NRO chief Chris Scolese said that the US was monitoring the fighting in Ukraine with two state-of-the-art satellite systems that, along with orbiting spy satellites, “allowed NATO and the world to monitor Russia's military buildup in real time ahead of its invasion.” . According to Scolese, this provided the US administration with detailed intelligence about Russian military maneuvers, missile launches, and likely strategic targets.
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