Galileo military debate

A proposal by European officials to allow military use of the Galileo satellite navigation system has could cause new friction with the US and cost it one international partner. According to an article from the British newspaper The Independent (via the Belfast Telegraph), European transport commissioner Jacques Barrot has suggested that military users of Galileo could help defray some of the costs of the system while giving European forces a navigation system independent of GPS. British officials were opposed to such a shift.

Potential military uses of Galileo aren’t likely to win support in India, which is already weighing whether it should continue its participation in the project. The Times of India reports that Indian officials failed to reach an agreement with EU counterparts about India’s role in Galileo because of “fears that sharing of sensitive data may not be adequately firewalled from individuals and other nations participating in the enterprise.” India has already hedged its bets on Galileo by agreeing to cooperate with Russian on its Glonass satellite navigation system, while announcing plans earlier this year to develop a regional satellite navigation system.

4 comments to Galileo military debate

  • Paul Dietz

    The effectiveness of GPS guided bombs has been so spectacular (98% hit rate in Kosovo), and their cost so low (they came in at less than half the projected cost when first introduced), that Europe really has no choice but to acquire this capability.


  • Bill Evans

    “military users of Galileo could help defray some of the costs of the system… British officials were opposed to such a shift.”

    This is not really new, it’s just the first time I’ve seen it in the press. At least six years ago a US official involved in GPS negotiations said that one of the main American concerns about Galileo was that in order to justify the cost, European governments would want their militaries to adopt it instead of GPS. NATO has agreed on a GPS standard, and the US was concerned that Galileo supporters would try to reverse that decision. In particular, they expected it from the French, who have not been a strong part of NATO. I suspect that Jacques Barrot is French. So no surprise.

  • al

    Any idea why the British are opposed to it?

  • Bill Evans

    The British are opposed for obvious reasons–they use more American equipment than the other countries in Europe, they have closer ties to the US, and they’re not as closely allied with Europe and the EC, EU, etc.

    That said, the political situation is complex, and countries in Europe can have one set of bureaucrats who work with NATO and want to use GPS, and another set of bureaucrats who work with the EU and want to switch their military to Galileo.