Is the European Union's (EU's) ambition to manage its own military operations realistic unless it develops satellite networks that can operate independently of America's space assets? Or should Europeans simply rely on U.S. technology? Can Europeans even expect to fight alongside the United States in future wars without increased access to space technology? All of these questions are highly relevant to the EU's hesitant efforts to develop a common European Security and Defense Policy (ESDP). Military commanders and their political leaders are increasingly dependent on space-based technologies for coping with many security challenges—ranging from humanitarian disasters to warfighting. But European governments have been slow to invest in space-based technologies for military purposes.
Considering the growing importance of space technology for military operations, the challenge for Europe is to transform a collection of disparate and relatively modest programs into a European military space architecture. The U.S.-pioneered "revolution in military affairs" (RMA)—a set of new military technologies based on computers and telecommunications—is closely associated with the future development of military space programs. In Europe, however, the RMA has been the subject of mistrust; in particular, there has been uncertainty about the military relevance of such high-technology–oriented thinking. Therefore, Europe has not been prepared to fully support the development of major military space programs.
Today, the United States accounts for perhaps more than 90 percent of the money spent on military programs in space.1 European investments in space-based military applications amount to less than 5 percent of the global total. The huge disparity between American and European investment in space technology will almost certainly increase the gap between American and European military capabilities. The very notion of spacepower can only reflect these global differences, considering that distinct levels of military dependency on these space systems naturally lead to different senses of urgency in protecting militarily the satellites in orbit.
Still, while the United States is already engaged in an unprecedented effort to adapt its armed forces to today's security environment using space-based technologies, European governments also recognize that they will have to adapt their intelligence and information resources to cope with more volatile situations—possibly involving the use of weapons of mass destruction—and more elusive enemies such as international terrorist networks. Space-based technology is a primary element for developing autonomous intelligence tools for Europe. European governments, therefore, should consider what space systems are necessary to both fulfill European military requirements and share more of the military burden with the United States during coalition warfare. But European governments have also agreed to develop their own collective armed forces so as to meet their North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and EU commitments. At the Helsinki summit in 1999, the EU agreed to work on the creation of a common European Security and Defense Policy. The point of the ESDP is to allow the EU to carry out small-scale "crisis management" operations, when NATO is not involved. The EU has therefore committed itself to a headline goal (a force of 60,000 troops), plus supporting naval, aerial, and civilian capabilities. The EU wants to be able to tackle the so-called Petersberg tasks (humanitarian relief, rescue missions, peacekeeping, and peacemaking) without having to rely on the United States for transport aircraft, intelligence gathering, command and control, and other capabilities.
More concretely, the political green light given to the creation of common European battlegroups has helped define a first format for planning genuine European military capabilities. It is acknowledged that these forces, among which responsibilities will be distributed following a rotating national leadership, will have to rely on shared information capabilities. Their use should be coordinated directly from Brussels by both an operational headquarters and a force headquarters. While still under discussion, these military structures, which have been accepted in principle, may typically appear as primary users of space resources in Europe. While not a revolution in itself, such a command chain using satellite systems for information would perfectly fit the level of development space has attained in Europe, while keeping, at this stage, far behind the United States. Once in service, these structures will mark the first steps in the concrete use of space by Europe for common military purposes.
None of these issues are easy ones. The intrinsic link between space programs and information technologies makes space the key to a new, almost uncharted, world in warfighting techniques. Pursuing very demanding and costly military space programs must not create overdependency on a sector that remains technologically difficult and vulnerable. Europe already possesses a few military space programs that can form the basis for future developments. But the number of these military programs is limited, and their interface with real combat is relatively moderate. European governments, therefore, need to make some decisions now about using space-based technology in the conflicts of tomorrow. Given static European defense budgets, decisions to develop space technology will have to be weighed against other military priorities. More specifically, if European countries are to make the most of their space resources, they should also evaluate the changing uses of military space systems in the United States.
New European Operational Needs: From Theory to Practice
For Europe, the path is somewhat narrow between fulfilling common requirements more efficiently through commercial ventures and needing to protect its autonomy, should military or political circumstances require it. European governments, therefore, need to think about a space strategy in terms of a European architecture. This is necessary for integrating European national programs, whether civilian or military. The key step is to ensure that the different programs can operate together.
Naturally, national programs have reflected the specificity of the national operational requirements. During the Cold War, France justified its production of space-based capabilities—albeit on a much more modest scale than the United States and the Soviet Union—on the grounds that it needed independent intelligence assets. For the French, like their independent nuclear arsenal, access to space and the construction of independent launchers—which gave birth to the Ariane family of space launchers—are viewed as necessary guarantees of strategic independence.
It is also true that common military needs may emerge and tend to rationalize a collective military and/or security use of space. Satellites are also used as a force multiplier—a means of increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of military operations. Information coming from space allows commanders in distant headquarters to see on screen, in real time, the location of their forces and those of their opponents, and to guide weapons precisely to their targets. This means that soldiers need to be equipped with sophisticated personal communications devices. But it also requires the transmission of so-called value-added information: the ability to mix different forms of information sources, to make the information relevant for the user. Strategists bet on compensating for the risk of engaging forces in a badly defined environment with better knowledge and by exerting military action from some distance. The combination of intelligence information with positioning and guidance data gives an inescapable edge to armed forces with access to space technology.
However, the geostrategic landscape is undergoing a total reshaping. Conflicts of diverse nature can break out with almost no warning. This new security environment calls for increasingly adaptable and flexible responses, including such capabilities as peacekeeping operations at the lower end of the combat spectrum. To respond effectively requires complete (multisensor) and intelligent information (data processing and information technology). The diversity of conflicts and the enormous amount of data needed for combat operations require space programs to interoperate increasingly with other intelligence and telecommunications means.
Different pieces of information coming from diverse sensors (space-, air-, sea-, or Earth-based) need to be merged, so that commanders and soldiers have a continuous flow of intelligence data. Space systems would provide strategic information. Indeed, among diverse capabilities, it is recognized that their permanence and the nonintrusive character of their activity reinforce their strategic value. The simple fact that satellites can be used before, during, and after a conflict definitely makes them a distinctive asset that can be used either for general long-term monitoring or for more focused and time-demanding intelligence. Complementary assets such as unmanned aerial vehicles would provide tactical information. Such means would then be devoted to the conduct of military operations with a better information-gathering capability, but on a smaller scale (theater-wide) and for a more limited period.
Moreover, the importance of continuous information flows becomes more acute in a coalition-led war, when partners have to share data coming from their own systems. This requires allies to make their information technology and telecommunications systems fully interoperable. If the partner countries overcome the technical challenges, the strategic nature of the information provided by space systems should increase mutual understanding and trust in a coalition-led war. In addition, military users of space technology increasingly rely on the integration of military space applications with civilian systems. For example, several civil telecommunications projects, consisting of satellites used for mobile or multimedia purposes, fit easily into military telecommunications systems.
In time, space applications may have a more central place in the functioning of the whole military organization. The digitization of the battlefield encourages military officers to think in terms of communications networks that link the air, naval, and ground forces, rather than to focus on traditional platforms such as aircraft, ships, and tanks. This concept of network-centric warfare suggests that space applications may be about to enter a new era, evolving into the role of a military "nervous system."
Still, many military commanders, especially in Europe, fear that excessive use of integrated information technologies during combat operations would lead to a flattening of the chain of command. These concerns do not just reflect the resistance to change usually shown by any social organization. The idea that warfighting can become more like a video game, with buttons pressed on consoles while the enemy is watched on big screens, understandably has made many nervous, leading some to question the usefulness of RMA-inspired technology. That has been the case particularly in Europe, where no full consensus has been reached about the future missions European military forces would have to perform and with awareness of the fact that any military action would be subject to political debate first. While debatable from a purely operational perspective, this reality makes any possibility to shorten the decisionmaking process seem at least as much a flaw as an advantage. New technologies imply major consequences for national military doctrines and warfighting techniques. Different assessments of the usage of information technologies in modern combat also call for cautious approaches toward any telecommunications integration process.
Existing European Space Capabilities
The controversy over the alleged presence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq has only reinforced the feeling that a fully autonomous intelligence space system must remain at the top of the priority list in Europe.2 Until today, Europe's space resources have relied mainly on a collection of national assets. These satellites have developed quite dramatically in two main areas: observation and telecommunications.
In the field of observation, recent history has shown how much a collective system can be envisioned considering the complementary approaches under way. The first French military observation satellite launched in the mid-1990s, Helios 1–A, was completed by a second one, Helios 1–B, launched in December 1999. Another Helios 2 series, run solely by France, with a first satellite launched in December 2004, both enlarged the nature of collected intelligence (with a supplementary infrared channel) and increased the transmission rate and volume, thus increasing the flexibility of the system.3 This effort in optical satellites has remained strongly associated with French industrial know-how. On the civilian side, France has also decided to launch a successor program to the older Spot satellites. This program, called Pleiades, will use a 1-ton platform and will provide 70-centimeter-class imagery for civilian and military purposes. The extreme agility of the satellites increasing the performances of the Pleiades system will possibly complement the Helios data. Other national efforts include those in the United Kingdom to develop domestic capabilities based on microsatellites4 (with a first experimental TopSat owned by the British Ministry of Defence launched in 2005); and in Sweden with the Svea project equivalent to Seosat in Spain, both offering a 2.5-meter ground resolution and both also raising some military interest.
Germany, Italy, and the United Kingdom have developed some capabilities in the field of radar techniques giving birth to recent programmatic developments. The German military SAR (synthetic aperture radar)-Lupe program led to the launch of the first German Earth observation satellite on December 19, 2006, with four more satellites in line for launch over the next 2 years. In Italy, the program for four SAR satellites, dubbed Cosmo, has also taken shape, with satellites launched over the 2007–2010 period.
While based on specific national orientations and know-how, these systems, having reached some kind of a critical mass, will finally be pooled to form the first European Earth observation architecture. Some examples, still under definition at this stage given the novelty of most of the systems, can be evoked as they have already been the subject of intense discussions and have shown relatively heterogeneous evolutions. Examples include the following:
The French Helios 2 and the German SAR-Lupe do not amount to a collective satellite system. Defense planners envisage only common use of the French and German systems. Data exchange procedures will be organized between the two systems to enrich the information gathered by both programs, and these data exchange arrangements are an important first step in the development of a collective European military space system.
The Pleiades-Cosmo project has been formed as a joint venture between France and Italy, who concluded a bilateral agreement in January 2001. The aim has been to develop a civilian space system for optical and radar imagery that could be used for military purposes. The radar segment has already come on line starting in 2007–2008 (the last of the four Cosmo satellites is expected to be on orbit in 2010), while the optical satellites are to be orbited in 2010. Pleiades-Cosmo may prove to be the real precursor of a collectively designed system at the European level and a test bed for the future replacement of national programs such as the Helios series. The increasing cost of military systems makes the success of such dual-use programs highly desirable.
In the field of telecommunications, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, and Spain have all developed national space capacities, although the scale of these efforts varies. The United Kingdom uses its own Skynet system, a constellation of three dedicated satellites with worldwide coverage for the British armed forces. In August 1998, the British government decided to develop Skynet V, a new generation of military telecommunication satellites. Skynet V has been developed under the Private Finance Initiative, whereby the system is fully dedicated to the national authorities in times of crisis but the managing organization can commercialize the capability for the rest of the time. The Italian SICRAL–1 and the Spanish Hispasat complete the European picture, thus providing a credible capability as demonstrated by the recent selection of the trinational SICRAL-Skynet-Syracuse III architecture to form the future NATO super-high-frequency space telecommunications system.
Theoretically, other areas (such as early warning, electronic intelligence, and space surveillance) may be regarded as potential candidates for future military space developments in Europe. Nevertheless, approaching more operational issues can only raise the difficulty of squeezing out more detailed common operational requirements at the strategic and the operative levels, leading to Europe's well-known difficulty in creating a consensus for a common defense policy.
From National to European Programs?
Thinking about a European military space program raises the issue of how to incorporate different national and European systems and integrate decisionmaking procedures.
Traditionally, Earth observation is the only field with any European military space cooperation. This cooperation has been materialized since 1991 through the EU satellite center in Torrejon, Spain. Providing satellite imagery interpretation, this center has acted since 2001 as a military intelligence provider directly for the European Security and Defense Policy. The Torrejon center will benefit from any improvement made in the constitution of the European armed forces, adding gradually more military-oriented missions besides its more usual security-related activity. In particular, sensitive issues such as the sharing of intelligence data coming from existing and future national space systems during EU crisis situations involving the newly formed European forces will have to be addressed via the Satellite Center channel.
In addition to this institutional approach, the difficulties that followed for building a French-German optical/radar integrated system (called Helios/Horus at the time) have led to more detailed discussions about the common use (and even development) of military satellites. In this respect, since 1999, the governments of Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, and Spain have been working on an agreement called the Common Operational Requirements for Global European Earth Observation System by Satellites—more commonly known by its French acronym BOC ( Besoin opérationnel commun). The aim is to define common requirements for military or dual-use Earth observation systems in the visible, infrared, and radar domains. This document is a first step toward deeper cooperation, with the objective to make future multinational agreements more durable. The BOC approach, by focusing on common requirements, differs radically from the purely financial agreements that traditionally were the essence of European space cooperation. Furthermore, the creation in 2002 of a European military imagery group called the Strategic IMINT (imagery intelligence) Action Group with military representatives from Belgium, France, Germany, Spain, and the United Kingdom led directly to the constitution of European Capability Action Plan groups that have paved the way for common operational thinking with a dedicated space group. The six-nation BOC effort is now transforming into a second step called MUSIS (multinational space-based imaging system for surveillance, reconnaissance, and observation), which is intended to specify a cooperative architecture to be running by the middle of the next decade. 5
According to figures published in France in October 2001, the total cost of such a development scheme (including observation, telecommunications, early warning, electronic intelligence, space surveillance, and navigation) would amount to around 800 million euros annually for 10 to 15 years.6 These figures have been contested by an expert group mandated by the European Commission (the so-called Spasec Group Report published in March 20057), which more than doubled the estimate.
Even if no alternative view has been offered, these estimations remain to be confirmed, and some other calculations may certainly diverge from these figures. It will be useful in any case to carefully assess these projections and to begin to think about the total cost for the acquisition and operation of these items. This will be the only way to compare the value of investing in space rather than in other areas, helping European decisionmakers to measure the global cost of any equipment strategy. On the other hand, the cost of maintaining national capabilities will also have to be weighed compared to shared solutions involving several European countries.
A Multifaceted Military and Security Space in Europe: From Dual-use Programs to a Long-term Strategy?
Recent technological trends are making the classical distinction between civilian and military technologies more tenuous. Like most information technologies, the constant improvement of the cost/performance ratio of electronic chips also drives space applications. And progressively more space architectures can mix civilian and military space systems. Most modern military thinkers agree that armed forces are increasingly dependent on using information flows, whatever their source or nature.
The space programs needed by the future European military forces will not only have to adapt to the military national-European interfaces, as just noted, but they will also have to make increasing use of the dual technologies and systems. As can be judged from recent decisions or declarations, this latest evolution may force profound changes in national military thinking.
Two main programs currently on the European agenda—Galileo, the European navigation program by satellite, and Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES), the European environmental and security monitoring program—symbolize the debate around the dual nature of many space applications. On the one hand, the member states of the European Union have a clear understanding that pursuing these projects will make their larger effort to build a coherent European political and military structure more credible. In particular, given the constant reference to "security"-type applications for these programs, including for some military uses, the political authorities will find it increasingly difficult to focus on environmental, industrial, or economic issues only without addressing more focused security issues. But on the other hand, such an evolution toward more security-related space programs may strengthen some of the national reticence to get more involved in their development.
Galileo is quite meaningful in this respect. The navigation and localization satellite program begun in the late 1990s has rapidly imposed itself at the Brussels level in the context of the U.S. global positioning system (GPS) domination. Since the beginning, the objective has always been defined to make Europe part of the precision location–related activities with the ability to master this particular technology to the fullest extent. 8 A number of studies had been published at the time demonstrating the extent to which those systems would become the backbone of a totally new activity with a wide array of possible uses in the market sector. These perspectives clearly showed how important it was for Europe to be a major actor in this area, both for political reasons—depending upon a foreign system for strategic applications was not without political significance if Europe was serious about becoming a major power—and for industrial and commercial reasons.
In its first phase, this program, called the European Global Navigation Overlay System/ Global Navigation Satellite System (EGNOS/GNSS–1), was organized in the framework of the tripartite body composed of the European Space Agency (ESA), the European Commission, and Eurocontrol (the aerial traffic certification institution) with an initial goal to augment the performances and control the integrity of the GPS. From the start, a second stage of GNSS was envisioned, GNSS–2, which was expected to provide Europe with a fully autonomous system based on a satellite constellation that would ultimately become Galileo. From the European perspective, the two principles behind the system proposed to support GNSS–2 were the satisfaction of requirements for precision, availability, and reliability compatible with life-saving activities, and ensuring that the management of the system would be administered by a completely independent civilian and multinational structure with a clear responsibility and liability for any service disruption.
After a number of differences of opinion between its member states were reconciled, Europe confirmed this position through a high-level group position expressed in 1997, while a European Commission document dated January 1998 defined all the action to be undertaken. 9 Initially, the global Galileo system had to be deployed by 2008 and required that Europe would emit experimental signals by 2006 on the various frequency bands used. In order to maintain the frequency allocations granted during the difficult negotiations of the May 2000 International Telecommunication Union World Radiocommunication Conference, it was necessary to deploy the first operational satellite before February 13, 2006. Fulfilling this task, a test bed payload was launched in December 2005, emitting its first signals on January 12, 2006. This objective, widely supported in Brussels, to put in place a complete European constellation of 30 satellites by 2008 has thus reflected a purely European self-assertive approach, with a largely publicized commercial side, besides obvious political interests.
The ambiguity of this public/civilian (even commercial to some extent) arrangement explains the bulk of the financial troubles Galileo has had. A striking feature has to do with the civilian dimension of the project that clearly legitimizes Galileo in the eyes of the Europeans, as it goes beyond the military-only controlled nature of the American GPS. In particular, the enduring possibility of the United States restricting access to users worldwide has been perceived as a severe limitation on the free use of the GPS, as has the potential (even if improbable) voluntary disruption or degradation of the GPS signal. From solely an industrial point of view, these perspectives, even if highly unexpected, were not exactly synonymous with investor trust and easy fundraising. At the European level, such characteristics have been considered a serious limitation in the free use of the GPS, especially as the European institutions had in mind the industrial and commercial applications from the start and desired to make them the primary justification for the program. Then again, two goals can be mentioned: first, to allow the European service industry to expand, and second, to make this industry a crucial part of the building of a new European-wide activity. The massive legal presence of the U.S. firms on the GPS-related services market was viewed in any case as a strongly limiting factor for European industry.10 The figures at stake and their constant revisions were judged convincing enough to propose an autonomous system that would in return make the industries more willing to invest in it.
In 2002, the European Commission announced that "according to various studies that have been conducted, the equipment and services market resulting from the programme is estimated at around euro 10 billion per annum, with the creation of over 100,000 highly skilled jobs; conversely, if Europe misses out these new developments, many jobs would ultimately disappear in the electronics and aerospace sectors." 11 Lastly and most importantly as far as the desirability of the project for industry was concerned, a study led by the private consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers and based on updated projections over a period of 20 years indicated a cost/benefit ratio of 4:6, "which is higher than for any other infrastructure project in Europe," as noted by the European Commission. 12
As a result, the civilian and commercial aspects of GNSS and Galileo have been increasingly stressed, thereby confirming the implications of the tripartite EU–ESA–Eurocontrol body in the management of the program. Both this early involvement of the European institutions and the ambiguity of the public/private arrangement may explain the bulk of the troubles Galileo has had to face recently from the financing standpoint. The financial scheme (called Public Private Partnership) envisioned by the steering institutions quoted above was based on successive public and private financing phases, implying some degree of return on investment through the commercialization of services by private entities.
At the cost of some adjustments, especially concerning the financial burden put on commercial entities, this system now has to find its balance. Public money would take the form of a European Commission payment of roughly one-third of the amount with private participation covering the other two-thirds. In spring 2001, 15 firms signed a memorandum of understanding aimed at achieving a combined private sector contribution of 200 million euros for the initial development and validation phase ending in 2007. A Galileo Joint Undertaking (GJU) based on article 171 of the European Community Treaty was adopted by the Commission in June 2001 in order to create a single management and financing structure for the program between 2002 and 2006–2007. A few aspects of the arrangements were watched particularly carefully, among which included mechanisms to avoid conflicts of interests that were the condition for the private sector participation.
In July 2004, a new GNSS Supervisory Authority (GSA) was created by the European Union Council. It became active on January 1, 2007, to replace the GJU (which ceased its own activities at the end of 2006) to represent the European public authorities during the preparation and the exploitation phase of the program. The GSA will organize the future relationships between the European Union and the private operator in charge of the actual exploitation of the program, with the particular objective to make sure that the security issues associated with Galileo are fully guaranteed.
Two main industrial groups have been formed and have competed at the European level. One group, Eurely, was composed of British, French, Italian, and Spanish firms around a core team composed by Alcatel Space, Finnmeccanica, and Hispasat, while the other group, INavSat, was built around the giant European electronic firm Thales and the other aerospace giant EADS. Confronted with two highly competitive proposals, the European commission eventually decided to promote the merger of these two groups to form a unique "commercial operator."
For the time being, all the problems related to the Galileo budgeting calendar regarding the rest of the program are not solved. On its side, industry is still considering very cautiously the unusual nature of the early investments it has to make and is urging the European public entities to provide more insurance and more details on the future budgets as well as for the first four satellites and the rest of the space and ground segment. The financing scheme envisioned by the steering institutions quoted above was based on successive public and private financing phases, implying some degree of return on investment through the commercialization of services by private entities.
European ministries of defense have not proved to be the most supportive governmental bodies of the member states. They were hardly in a position to support Galileo directly, as it was conceived as a civilian program from its inception and to its main ultimate goals. From this perspective, the enrollment of Galileo in the "Aerospace" account of the 6th Framework Programme for Research and Development 13 may have had the indirect effect of reinforcing this "civilian only" identification. Galileo could then be merely considered as an element of the global aerospace expenditures, themselves confronted with the competition from other transport budget items. As can be judged by what happened at the end of 2001, this particular position has had negative effects for the program, implying a global, even if implicit, reassessment of the "sovereignty" dimension embedded in it. This reassessment has been highlighted by the hesitations noted in Laeken in December 2001, when the transportation ministers showed themselves unable to agree on the amount of the public financing of Galileo, while its principle had been approved 3 months earlier in Edinburgh during the ESA Summit.
In many respects, this nondecision has highlighted the relative weakness of the member states' political support for the program, much beyond the usual bureaucratic resistance manifested by financially careful ministries toward a program of more than 3 billion euros. High-profile personalities, rather than states' representatives, have had to squeeze out the importance of a positive vote for Galileo and to underscore the damage that could have been caused by Europe's hesitations. Carl Bildt, the former Swedish prime minister, has blamed "the inability of successive Swedish and Belgian presidencies of the European Union to resolve fully the issues around the Galileo Project," summarizing that "the urgent need to begin dialogue with [the] U.S. on this issue, has highlighted Europe's lack of coherent policy and an effective decision making structure." Adding to this severe judgment, Loyola de Palacio, then European Transport and Energy Commissioner, declared at the time that "what we are lacking is a decision by the Governments of the European Union. The problem is not one of cost, but of [politics]."14
This need for a "political transcription" of the utility of Galileo for Europe has been somewhat confirmed by the mild position adopted by countries usually judged as the warmest supporters of Galileo. Again, the military side especially expressed a measured approach. European military choices are always made in the context of tight national defense budgets, and space expenditures have never ranked high on their priority list, except in the case of strictly controlled programs related to national sovereignty, such as Helios. It must be noted that the Commission in early communications has always taken care not to put aside the military dimension of Galileo:
And last but not least, Galileo will underpin the common European defense policy that the Member States have decided to establish. There is no question here of coming into conflict with the United States which is and will remain our ally, but simply a question of putting and end to a situation of dependence. If the EU finds it necessary to undertake a security mission that the U.S. does not consider to be in its interest, it will be impotent unless it has the satellite navigation technology that is now indispensable. Although designed primarily for civilian applications, Galileo will also give the EU a military capability.15
Obviously, attaining balance on this subject is a delicate matter in the European institutional context. By posing the question of the military use of Galileo at the end of 2001, the United States directly connected the project to the traditional Achilles' heel of the European construction process.
Significantly, the strongest reactions to what were considered as American pressure
to sink the project came from the European institutions. For example, Antonio Rodota, then head of the European Space Agency, affirmed that he was
convinced the United States was aiming at destabilizing Galileo in order to keep a monopoly on satellite navigation activity worldwide. On her side,
Loyola de Palacio exhorted the governments to keep their objectives clearly defined so they would be ready to definitively set the technical
characteristics of the Galileo signal at the World Radiocommunication Conference in 2003.
As far as the U.S. (and NATO16) security preoccupations were concerned, they were shared by some European ministries of defense that insisted the military security aspects would obviously have to be taken into account in the management of the European system. In fact, in full compliance with those security requirements at the member states level, the structure of the service brought by Galileo is based on the existence of several types of services. One of these, the public regulated service, will rely on a highly secured and precise signal devoted to an array of governmental activities, including civil security uses or police uses. This means that Galileo will be organized by performance (according to the precision and the reliability required by type of user) rather than the way the GPS is—that is, by nature (along a military/civilian use line). Including the military uses in this wide category of public-only uses, with military standards as minimum requirements, would have to deal with a control and management structure that will be handled directly at the European level. But as mentioned above, the possible military use of Galileo remains a very contentious issue in Europe.
In any case, the global response made to the U.S. authorities about the secure management of the program was hoped to be sufficient to allay their fears in the security management domain and to stop worrying about jamming a future allied asset. Moreover, the technical possibility seems to have been successfully demonstrated that the Galileo signal would not interfere with the GPS. Moreover, the choice of frequencies close to those used by the GPS has even proven to be a prerequisite in the eyes of the ministries of defense of the member states, who insisted at the European level that Galileo would have to be interoperable with the U.S. system.
The increasingly frequent references to enlarged security requirements may help the idea of common European security and military requirements to assert itself, including in the military domain. One may have seen a first sign in this direction in the so-called Baveno Manifesto, which announced this new initiative in 1998 to deal with the need for environmental monitoring.17 Strictly associated with environment monitoring in the first place, the notion of security contained in the official program label has rapidly been enlarged. A 1999 European Commission document changed the name of the GMES program by transforming it from "Environmental Security" to "Environment and Security." This text insisted on the security of "individuals and nations," underlining "the environment problems . . . [that] could lead to an international conflict."18 Finally, a 2001 report by the Joint Task Force, a newly created supervising body of the EU and ESA space-related activities, reaffirmed the importance of the security component of GMES: "The security and dual use dimensions of GMES have not been adequately investigated so far [which must lead to] establish an appropriate dialog between the Directorate General of the Commission, the Secretariat of the European CFSP, ESA and relevant authorities in Member States [and] determine the future role of ESA with respect to these issues."19 In this document, "Joint Task Force Report" refers to the Petersberg tasks, adopted in 1992, which include humanitarian and rescue missions, peacekeeping, and the use of combat force in crisis situations, including peacemaking, and which form the core of the European Security and Defense Policy.
For its promoters, GMES must be considered as a useful tool for civil security, including missions dealing with operational forecasting, hazards mitigation, damage assessment, rescue operations, and health and food problems, with some predicting capabilities. The relationship of these missions with possible military situations under the auspices of the Petersberg tasks naturally makes GMES a potentially relevant tool for the military actors or planners. Beyond the humanitarian dimension, other possible uses of GMES can also be envisioned in the field of security, in particular for a contribution to the verification of some disarmament treaties. Indeed, progress made in the field of the sensors, especially in spectral resolution (hyperspectral techniques), along with constantly improved computing techniques clearly make programs such as GMES better adapted to detect and analyze fine artifacts such as industrial effluents. It must be recalled that analyzing industrial pollution remains one of the program's primary missions related to the Kyoto protocol on global climate change. In any event, the increasing number and variety of sensors on orbit will make GMES a system that, if well supported by an adapted information structure, will contribute to an enhanced European security. Well ahead of the current planning stage of the program, these views give a political content to what remains a scientific endeavor aimed at a better European coherence in the field on the environmental security and that remains financed by the research and development budget at this time.
Considering the political sensitivity of the subject, the potential association of GMES with an ongoing European military destiny has not help to clarify the future of the program. GMES is run by the European Commission, which defined an action plan composed of a 2-year initial period started in 2001, followed in 2003 by a capacity buildup period, with an operational system envisioned for 2008. This process is collectively managed, with a relatively low-profile role for the member states. A joint EU-ESA decision in March 2002 announced the creation of a steering group composed of representatives of each state with the objective to select the national projects sent in response to the first scientific request for proposals issued by the Commission. In its very early stage and rather oriented toward pure research programs, the national answers are coordinated in the member states, which act as coordinators rather than as initiating actors. On its side, the European Space Agency appears as the most proactive institution in this project. One main task of the space agency is to bring services elements to GMES during the final capacity buildup phase, in order to lay the groundwork for receiving the data produced by GMES.
Since November 2005, so-called GMES fast track services have been endorsed at the political level for three areas: land monitoring, global maritime services, and the setting up of a dedicated information infrastructure. The goal is to reach a preoperational stage in the coming years by taking benefit from existing capabilities and resources. In addition, the GMES project also bets on its own Sentinel satellite programs. 20
The current GMES development process shows how the strategic character of the program has not fully translated into a genuine common political involvement from the European nations in the security and defense policy, despite the efforts made by the European Commission in this direction. Given the expected difficulties to find a consensus on the security aspect of GMES, the scientific and environmental aspects of the program currently monopolize the European activity to develop a common understanding around it. In particular, the European Commission has adopted a relatively cautious approach on the subject to manage a project whose dual aspects are recognized but has not elected yet to make it an instrument of a still-elusive "collective sovereignty" in the European context.
The Path of "European Security"
Both a white paper of the European Commission issued during the autumn 200321 and the widely distributed Spasec Group report to the European Commission showed that a proper place should be found for the exiting actors, namely the ESA and the Commission, to allow Europe to develop a reasonable security space capability. While the European advances have definitely followed a pragmatic approach favoring the programs over, for example, collective high-level political and military thinking, it is noticeable that new conceptual efforts have been made by the commission and by the European Space Agency in the field of security since 2004.
As far as the European Commission is concerned, a new program was introduced to budget a "space and security" line for the next 7 years starting from 2007. This effort has already been prepared for 3 years by the Preparatory Action for Security Research (PASR) led by the Commission. This action, supported by a few tens of millions of euros, has identified critical areas where research and development efforts should be concentrated, including in the space area, for improving the security of the European citizen. Not only roadmapping but also real-size experiments (such as the one demonstrated in the case of the ASTRO+ project, one of the PASR projects devoted to the study of the use of space to address security situations) have consolidated views linking space and security in fields like natural and manmade disasters, the protection of critical infrastructures, or maritime surveillance. These topics should be explored more in detail under the European Union 7th Framework Program for R&D that will take place from 2007 to 2013. In total, an average of 200 millions euros should flow annually for space applications devoted to European security only. Such a program should stir new synergies, mobilize dual competencies, and provide a first genuine European political base for a more security-oriented common space program.
It is no surprise that these last years have also been the time for a more active stance from the part of the ESA on security-related issues. In particular, the issue of space surveillance has now reached a high level of priority for the agency. System architecture studies were started in 2007 and led to the adoption in November 2008 of an SSA roadmap with a first 55 million Euros spent over 3 years for preoperational studies. It is expected that a total amount of 620 million Euros will be spent on the European SSA over the next 10 years with the goal to launch the construction of a system early in the next decade. It is clear that such a project relates both to the need for Europe to have a better understanding of the vulnerabilities linked to the use of space systems and to a collective will to better assume the security of Europe at large, possibly enhancing global security by contributing to a better space surveillance system globally.
In these two areas, dramatic steps are being made by transitioning, albeit slowly, from purely national systems to shared systems. These new developments could then be seen as confirming the signs in this direction shown by the two flagship programs mentioned above, with more directly applied political decisions related to the "security of the European citizen." Besides the collective but still hesitant efforts made in the field of European military space, the nascent trend toward a possible "European Space for Security" could well be elected as a more practicable path toward a tangible European spacepower.
Europeans need to decide on their future military space needs. Against a background of U.S. dominance of the international space environment, how does space technology correspond to European security interests? Military space is generally twofold. Space technology comprises, on the one hand, applications directly relevant to the soldier on the ground— intelligence systems, navigation systems, and telecommunications—that can be called force application systems. On the other hand, some space systems aim at defending the orbital domain—space surveillance and antisatellite systems—that can be called space control systems.
Realistically, the "do-it-all" approach of the United States cannot be a template for Europe. Space control systems are irrelevant to the types of peace support missions that the EU aims to undertake. However, it is recognized that developing force application systems should increase the efficiency of European armed forces on the ground. These technologies are increasingly recognized as a prerequisite for future European military operations. First priorities for European space efforts will likely be intelligence and telecommunications systems.
The BOC—the European Earth observation agreement—and NATO's nascent telecommunications satellite infrastructure have shown how much progress has been made in the right direction for the last decade. These multinational initiatives will be pursued and could even extend to sensitive fields such as signals intelligence/electronic intelligence or even early warning, considering an increasing awareness of the need to better assess the ballistic threat. However, this latest issue precisely set the limitations to what may be possible from a collective standpoint in Europe. Differing political and military needs (for example, the different positions existing in Europe related to nuclear deterrence and associated needs) may make these kinds of military programs, if they have to exist, unreachable in Europe.
A second increasing perspective for Europe is to promote innovative ways of using space applications for security in the broadest sense. In this area, current efforts undertaken by the European Space Agency to set up a European architecture for space surveillance and monitoring purposes must be noticed. Such a move is in line with this enlarged security concept where, in this case, monitoring of debris or space traffic will become more crucial for promoting the development of any space activity. It is particularly true as Europe positions itself slowly at the forefront of efforts to integrate military and civilian systems into a global space architecture that would help countries deal with a wider array of security challenges. Indeed, satellites dedicated to monitoring the environment (as envisioned by the GMES program) could also be useful for dealing with other short-term threats that could range from terrorist actions to insufficiently secure industrial or armaments installations in Eastern Europe. In such cases, both civil security and military planners need access to information from more flexible and responsive space systems. The ability to exploit an increasing amount of complex data, and produce relevant information for a wider array of users, should be a priority for European space efforts. The need to integrate space programs with other kinds of sensors and intelligence-collection systems means that Europeans should develop their own system of systems. In other words, military space programs may form part of an all-inclusive European security architecture that integrates both civil and military systems and space-based and non–space-based technologies. This is the only way to make a complete European space system palatable for cash-strapped finance ministries.
Whatever the solution, the two prerequisites for the future of European military space are to make the most of new technologies and to decide how to manage future security needs at the European level. Showing a possible way to enhance security and help Europe be a more capable security partner on the global scene, the notion of a European spacepower that would help solve these larger political issues could then legitimately take shape.