Galileo takeoverSee related story line: German/French "Galileo war"
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SummaryWork in progress... forks are welcome.
Note: this story needs some fact checking. quote at your own risk ;)In 2011, OHB-System's CEO Berry Smutny was fired because of a cablegate cable (#3 in this graph) that quotes him calling the Galileo project "a waste of EU tax payers' money". This story line tries to explore the context around this event: a struggle between the French and the German regarding cooperation with the USA, both civillian (integration with the GPS grid) and military.
Galileo is a European initiative for a satellite grid for navigation (similar to USA's GPS grid). This in itself may not be enough to justify the huge costs of the project, but there's a growing need for military applications for satellites, from missile control to high resolution photography, and it's a bit troubling for nation states to depend upon the USA for such purposes. A Stratfor mail from 2007 says:
Pity the poor devil who finds himself in the path of a "Taurus" remote-controlled missile. These new European-made cruise missiles have a range of 350 kilometers (218 miles) and are exceedingly precicise -- capable of hitting a target as small as a house at that range.
... The US Army, which operates the GPS satellites, has supremacy over all military GPS receivers on earth, including those installed in "Taurus" missiles.
Should Europeans worry? The French believe so, as Berry Smutny, the CEO of Germany's satellite manufacturer OHB-System is quoted in the 09BERLIN1324 cable:
Not that Smutny is impressed by these concerns:
the EU desire to develop a redundant but alternative to GPS was spearheaded by the French after an incident during the Kosovo Conflict when the US military "manipulated" GPS to support military operations
At the time he said that, the contract smutny "would gladly accept" was given to a much larger company called Astrium (with German and French share holders), but it was late and over budget.
[Smutny] called the EU's Galileo global navigation satellite system (GNSS) "a waste of EU tax payers' money championed by French interests." Nevertheless, Smutny said his company would gladly accept contracts to build the satellites.
One option to cut losses would have been integration with USA's GPS grid in return for investment and satellite imagery exchange, but the French didn't like the idea.
3 months later OHB receives the project. In order to compensate for the small size of the company, the UK based satelite company SSTL joins their bid. Since Astrium has shares in SSTL, they also win from this move, and everybody's happy (although the Germans are happier than the French).
During the whole time (before and after the OHB takeover), officials from the German militaly and BND keep approaching USA officials, trying to establish military satellite collaboration with them.
1) 09BERLIN429 2009-04-09 CONFIDENTIAL
GALILEO IDENTITY CRISIS: A FERRARI BUILT TO DELIVER FISH
This begs the question: is the EU ready to come clean and simply admit that Galileo is required for national security? The other three major GNSS providers--GPS, Glonass, and COMPASS make no qualms about this and freely admit that these systems are first and foremost for national security. Otherwise, if not for national security reasons, the EU might be building a Ferrari designed to deliver fish.
2) 09BERLIN1319 2009-10-22 CONFIDENTIAL
GERMAN SPACE AGENCY FLOATS A MERGED GPS AND GALILEO UNDER NATO
3) 09BERLIN1324 2009-10-22 CONFIDENTIAL
OHB-SYSTEM CEO CALLS GALILEO A WASTE OF GERMAN TAX PAYER MONEY
4) 10BERLIN43 2010-01-14 CONFIDENTIAL
OHB ECLIPSES ASTRIUM FOR GALILEO CONTRACT BUT BOTH END UP WINNERS
5) 10BERLIN161 2010-02-05 SECRET//NOFORN
BND LOBBYING MERKEL AND USG ON SATELLITE RECONNAISSANCE COOPERATION