Next-gen spy satellite network to be established

Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair and Defense Secretary Robert Gates signed a classified memo March 30 that would establish a program to build a multi-billion dollar, next-generation spy satellite network, reports DOD Buzz.

The program would add a further layer of complexity to the administration’s current budget crunch dilemma in which a number of large programs for new weapons systems are forcing government officials to pick and choose which will continue as part of the 2010 budget and which will be sharply cut back or canceled.

The debate between the intelligence community and the military over the configuration of the system has been heated, sources told the online journal. Specific details of the program are scant because of its classified nature.

DNI spokeswoman Vanee Vines confirmed April 2 that the two organizations have approved the electro-optical satellite network. She told the online journal that the decision was based on multiple panels and studies conducted over the last several years that showed a need for a new satellite network. Vines declined to discuss the costs or schedule of the proposed satellite system.

The system might cost $3.5 billion to get started, and potentially would cost up to $10 billion over the next five years, depending on which technical approach is approved and on how many satellites will be built, sources told DOD Buzz.

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