Subject:      US: Builder of Battlestar Galacticas...
From:         [email protected] (Allen Thomson)
Date:         1996/03/20
Message-Id:   <[email protected]>

and mighty fine ones they are.

   Combest Unveils Radical Plan to Overhaul U.S. Intelligence
   by Joseph Anselmo
   Aviation Week and Space Technology, 11 March 1996, p.67
   [Harold] Brown [Chairman of the Aspin/Brown Commission] in a 
   briefing to the Senate Intelligence Committee, said a "low-end 
   tier" of [intelligence] satellites developed by the U.S. and 
   foreign partners "will provide more satellites of lesser 
   capability but more complete coverage, more reliable coverage."
   Some congressional aides are puzzled about whether potential 
   partners such as France, Germany and the United Kingdom could 
   significantly contribute to such satellite projects in light of 
   their military funding problems.
   But Brown said U.S. allies would benefit from "a somewhat less 
   capable system" with U.S. technology because it would be 
   developed cheaper and faster and be more effective.
   "The reason that allies would offer to accept participation is 
   that they can't afford Battlestar Galacticas," he said. "We can, 
   we will, and we'll build them.  If they try to build them 
   independently they won't make it."
   It's noteworthy that Israel doesn't show up in this story, 
although it was specifically mentioned in the Aspin/Brown 
Commission report and, according to very recent reporting, is 
intending to have eight Ofeq-3-derived imaging satellites up by 

   A scheme like the Commission is advocating might actually 
make some sense: a shared US/Israeli/whoever constellation 
of eight to a dozen smallsats to handle routine and tactical 
needs, plus several in the barn on Tauruses, Shavits, Cosmoses, 
etc. in case replacements were needed on short notice.  The 
Battlestar Galacticas of which the US is so proud could do 
special-purpose very-high-resolution imaging, but wouldn't be 
needed for day-to-day situation monitoring or be crucial for 
military operations (for which there is little hope they'll ever 
be suited, anyway).  High resolution and continuous dwell imaging 
over battlefields would be the provenance of stealthy Dark 
Starish UAVs. 

   Of course, this scenario is not particularly consistent with 
the numerous indications over the past two or three years that 
the US is headed in the direction of fewer Galacticas in higher 
orbits to cut costs while trying to address the revisit and dwell-time 
problems encountered during Desert Storm.  On the other hand, it 
wouldn't be hard to back off from the all-Galactica designed-to-
be-vulnerable solution to the Commission's more robust and 
reasonable mixed one.

  It will be interesting to see if and how this all plays out.