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US Defense to buy less commercial satellite imagery

Washington, US: The US Defense Department intends to reduce planned purchases of commercial satellite imagery in 2013 as part of a broader initiative aimed at reducing US military expenditures by USD 259 billion over the next five years, according to the Pentagon planning document, Defense Budget Priorities and Choices. On the hand, the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency’s (NGA) budget is classified, meaning it will not release details of its 2013 funding request for commercial imagery.
The US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta observed, “The forthcoming request will total USD 525 billion and reflects numerous force structure and other changes that the administration deemed necessary in light of a changing strategic and budgetary environment,” said.
Earlier, Panetta unveiled new strategic guidance that he and other defence officials say drove the decisions that went into the budget request. Under the Budget Control Act of 2011, the Pentagon must cut planned spending by USD 487 billion over the next decade.
Among the major programmes being scaled back in the new budget are the Joint Strike Fighter and the Global Hawk surveillance drone, senior defence officials said. However, spending on certain capabilities, among them space, cyber warfare and special operations forces, will be preserved and in some cases increased as the Pentagon moves to a leaner and more agile force and places greater emphasis on the Asia-Pacific region.
The document said planned upgrades to space capabilities including GPS, the space-based infrared system for missile warning and advanced extremely high frequency secure communications satellites will be preserved in the request, expected to be delivered to Capitol Hill in mid-February. Programmes to defend US and European territory against ballistic missile attacks also will be preserved, officials stressed, but some regional interceptor programmes will not see funding increases that had been anticipated, officials continued.
Source: Space News