U.S. helps Germany add to its “already impressive suite of space-based radar.”
Germany sought American help to construct a spy satellite capable of detecting objects 50 centimeters (1.5 feet) in diameter, working at night using infrared and processing information far quicker than current satellites, according to a WikiLeaks cable published by the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten.
“Germany is taking concrete steps to achieve a full-spectrum, overhead reconnaissance capability by adding a space-based High Resolution Optical System (HiROS) to their already impressive suite of space-based radar and multi-spectral systems,” the cable, dated Feb. 15, 2009, states. “The German government believes that full spectrum overhead reconnaissance is an effective force multiplier, provides an instrument of national power, and politically frees Germany from dependence on foreign sources of imagery.”
The German government denies that HiROS is a military project, saying that it is designed for public use. “HiROS is no spy satellite and no secret project,” said spokesman for the German Space Agency (dlr) Andreas Schuetz. Instead, the satellite would be used to help civilians in natural disasters, or for scientific projects.
That response might have sounded more convincing had the leaked cable not stated the following:
To minimize possible political backlash from developing HiROS as an intelligence satellite, the program will be managed by a civil agency, possibly the Ministry of Economics and Technology (bmwi). For political optics, the satellites themselves would be operated by a “commercial entity” created specifically for this purpose, but with tasking managed/controlled/coordinated by bnd [German Federal Intelligence Agency]. Commercial imagery sales are envisioned to help offset program development costs. bnd managers are adamant that the imagery must be unclassified to enable maximum utility.
So, in order to make the satellite program look better, the German government said it’d make it look like a non-military project.
Even if Germany does use the satellites for purely commercial purposes to begin with, they could very easily be used for spying in the future.
The leaked cable also exposes the German desire for cooperation with the U.S. The cable stated:
The bnd stressed that having their own national space-based reconnaissance assets will enable them to be a better partner with the usg by bringing more unique value to the table. The bnd indicated that they are anxious to precede with additional high-value substantive joint projects with the usg and hope that through a closer imagery exchange relationship, Germany could fill some of their collection gaps by gaining access to U.S. imagery covering Iran, North Korea, China, and the Haqqani Network in the afpak region.
The Americans, the cable shows, are enthusiastic about the project. The German satellite program, they say, “has yielded sophisticated and reliable satellite systems that provide an extraordinary amount of product for their investment.”
The cable said the satellites would be operational by 2013, however construction hasn’t yet begun on any of the satellites.
Space is a vital frontier to any nation wishing to control events on Earth. As we wrote in December 2003, “War is endemic to the past and continuing history of mankind. Consider and realize that major wars will never be controlled from this Earth’s surface again! From now on, all major wars will be controlled from space.”
The fact that America is building up Germany’s spy satellite capacity shows a dangerous level of trust. Winston Churchill once wrote: “The wars of Frederick and of Bismarck had shown with what extraordinary rapidity and suddenness the Prussian nation was accustomed to fall upon its enemy …. Obviously, therefore, the danger of a ‘bolt from the blue’ was by no means fantastic” (World Crisis).
America is aiding Germany in a vital national security area. That mistake will come back to bite America in the future. Germany has a history of turning around and attacking nations like a “bolt from the blue.”