Air Force seeks satellite blinder plans

The Air Force wants to have designs within a year for systems to deny enemies the use of their satellites' information-processing capabilities.

Earlier this month the service awarded a $32.2 million contract to Northrop Grumman Corp. to produce designs for the Counter Surveillance and Reconnaissance System. CSRS is a mobile platform that would use reversible, nondamaging means to temporarily blind enemy spy satellites.

The deal is an addition to a $15 million contract already awarded to Northrop to develop the satellite blinder. The company's Mission Systems division in Redondo Beach, Calif., heads the effort with help from BAE SYSTEMS' Information and Electronic Systems Integration division in Merrimack, N.H., according to a Defense Department contracts statement. Air Force officials say they expect the work to be completed by October 2004.

Northrop declined comment on the CSRS deal.

Enemies are increasingly using satellites to spy on the United States as well as systems that try to deny America use of its own satellites. The Air Force on Oct. 3 created the 26th Space Aggressor Squadron located at Schriever Air Force Base, Colo., to identify space threats and counter them.

Saddam Hussein's forces tried to jam U.S. Global Positioning System satellites during Operation Iraqi Freedom — the first time an enemy tried to blind the satellites that help guide U.S. bombs to their targets. But the U.S. military used effective countermeasures to stop the Iraqi GPS jammers, said Air Force Lt. Col. Guy Morley Jr., who leads the new squadron, in an Oct. 24 statement.

Enemies also try to jam U.S. civilian broadcasts. A Cuban transmitter in July started jamming Voice of America's Farsi broadcasts to Iran, Foreign Policy magazine said in its November/December 2003 issue.

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