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German foreign intelligence service to get its own reconnaissance satellite in 2022

A satellite intercept facility operated by the German foreign intelligence agency, BND, at Bad Aibling, Germany. Photo credits: AFP/Getty Images.
A satellite intercept facility operated by the German foreign intelligence agency, BND, at Bad Aibling, Germany. Photo credits: AFP/Getty Images.

German news outlet Deutsche Welle, along with other German media sources, reports that the German federal foreign intelligence agency, the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), has been allocated a U.S.435 million (approximately 400 million Euros) budget line to acquire its own high-resolution satellite reconnaissance system expected to enter service in 2022.

The BND is responsible for collecting all foreign intelligence for the German Federal government, and as a result is active in many parts of the Middle East, from Libya, Egypt, and Israel, to Iraq and Syria, as well as Iran and Yemen. The aim of this intelligence activity is to provide strategic early warning for the German Chancellor and cabinet.

The BND has long been a consumer of satellite imagery, and until the decision to acquire its own reconnaissance satellite, has relied upon the German Army – the Bundeswehr – for much of its needs, as well as on commercial imagery provided by companies like DigitalGlobe, located in Colorado, United States, and satellite imagery provided to it by the U.S. intelligence agencies. The Bundeswehr operate five SAR-Lupe radar reconnaissance satellites that have a resolution of less than one metre. The Bundeswehr also has access to the French military’s Helios electro-optical reconnaissance satellites, as well as Italy’s dual-use Cosmo-SkyMed radar reconnaissance satellites.

Until recently the German Federal Government had resisted attempts by the BND to acquire its own reconnaissance satellite, citing the prohibitive cost of such a programme. However, with the worsening situation in Syria, Iraq, Libya, and Yemen, the mass flow of refugees to Europe from the Middle East and Central Asia, a resurgent Russia, and an assertive Iran, the German government has had to increase funding for its security agencies and better equip them against this mix of threats.

As the new BND reconnaissance satellite system develops, there may also be opportunities for cooperation and data sharing between Germany and its friends and allies in the Middle East who also possess high-resolution reconnaissance systems.

Original published at: http://www.spacewatchme.com/2016/11/german-foreign-intelligence-service-get–satellite-2022


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