Classified U.S. Spy Satellites Under Scrutiny
The Washinton Post reports that U.S. Director of National Intelligence (DNI) John D. Negroponte will be using his power over funds spent by the U.S. intelligence community’s 15 agencies to review and decide upon several classified satellite programs. The two new generations of spy satellites are being developed by the National Reconnaissance Office, a Pentagon agency that also reports to the DNI.
These systems include a classified program to build the next generation of small “stealth satellites” that could blend into space debris, whose estimated costs have nearly doubled to $9.5 billion in recent years while size limitations on their capabilities remain.
The other program is the Future Imagery Architecture (FIA), whose development has been going on since the late 1990s and whose cost increases now place the program at more than $25 billion over the next decade. Both systems have come in for legislative controversy, and Negroponte will be giving Congress the “DNI position” on classified intelligence programs when the legislators return after Labor Day.
DID has covered studies and controversies related to the USA’s satellite programs and their costs. See esp. GAO Report: Satellite Programs Show Overruns Across the Board (Aug 4/05) and U.S. Satellite Program Delays & Costs Defended, Criticized (Apr 29/05).