Satellites - America's Achilles Heel
Washington, DC Aug. 27th, 2006 ---- Modern technological business as well as warfare depends on a whole collection of satellites in space, and ground installations on the ground. From flying Predator Drones to using an ATM card at a country bank, satellites deliver the information at the speed of light.
Recently the Pentagon in their usual thoughtless , heavy handed way demanded that the US be allowed to destroy global communications by using an unproven satellite defense system. Fortunately the communications industry got wind of the hair brained idea and screamed "Foul". The Pentagon has had many brain-dead schemes to tinker with nature in space. Students of satellite communications may remember the idiotic idea of seeding the upper atmosphere with millions of steel needles, which screwed up communications till they slowly fell to Earth and burned up.
That being said they do realize that America and the entire world commerce and communications infrastructure depends on these satellites. They are very vulnerable, as the nations developing their Asymmetric Warfare capabilities know too well. This is not new information and I lectured on the vulnerability of high-powered satellites back in the 1980's.
In the 1960's the equipment for receiving satellite signals was enormous, with dishes up to 60 feet in diameter. As satellites got more powerful these Earth Stations shrunk to 18 feet, then 6 feet, and now 18 inches. Look at the size of the transmit/receive systems on Banks and Car Dealerships. These handle more data than the 60 foot dishes of the 1960's.
But most satellites are only dumb relay towers 22,700 miles up in space. They don't care who uses them, or directs their maneuvering motors. They can easily be spun off into deep space, and taken over even easier. Remember the Terrorist nations have Earth Stations, advanced satellite technology and engineers, rockets and even satellites in Space. The United States has most of the world's satellites in orbit, but that is only because they have the money to launch and run them. They do not own, or control the technology.
Over the years I have disguised satellite systems as everything from Greenhouses to Attic Extensions. It is surprisingly easy to hide a quite large transmit and receive antenna, and with careful screening make it very difficult to detect from the ground, or any distance. A fine beam with suppressed side lobes isn't like a terrestrial transmitter, spewing RF in all directions.
The terrorist nations know this, and have some interesting structures of their own on Embassies around the world. This isn't breaking news to them.
But as I visit satellite centers around the world I am amazed how easy it is to jam their operation, with equipment from eBay! Even highly sensitive and strategically vital US Government facilities are so vulnerable one wonders if the designing engineers came from the Magic Kingdom at Disney World. And the major Banks and finance operations should organize conducted tours of their vulnerabilities, as in many cases anyone can wander around and look for themselves.
But wait! This is all low technology. It doesn't need multi-billion dollar contracts for the Defense Contractors so it really isn't discussed with Congress. The same Congress who is finally realizing these multi-billion dollar Black Satellite projects that can read the washing label on Bin Laden's briefs are absolutely a waste of time and money if you don't know where he is!! If the discussion comes round to the vulnerability of satellites the same companies could develop a multi-billion satellite defense system, employing thousands of engineers over the next ten years. Can you say PORK!!
In my travels around the world I have seen the capabilities of many satellite companies, and their Muslim Engineers. The same applies to those with Chinese Engineers, who I must say make me stand there in awe at what they can achieve. Much technology stolen from the US, or supplied by Israel, again stolen from US Labs.
Congress is finally pushing back and asking questions about the massive cost overruns and technological targets that are never met, yet devour even more and more funding every year to reach that elusive goal. Industry needs to start looking closely at it's networks and systems for risk, and continuity of operation in the event of a physical, or RF attack. If you don't know what an RF Attack is, or will do, call me and book a presentation.
Global Terrorism is at the stage of Bows and Arrows, which up till the IDF/Hezbollah conflict was a pointless fight between stone throwing youths and Depleted-Uranium Clad Super Tanks. But Hezbollah has found a vulnerability in their armor and has knocked out a reported 21 Israeli tanks, believed to be the best in the world. Global Terrorism has moved forward in it's technology.
It won't be too long before the cause to defeat the Mighty Satan will be taken up by scientists and technicians, buoyed by victories on the streets of the Middle East by the suicide fighters. Then the trillions of dollars of Pentagon projects will be seen in a different light. My concern is the systems for financial institutions and industry. Lose a KH-12 and nobody knows. Lose HBO and CNN and the phones in Congress will be running hot as voters demand action. And with the bias of CNN and Fox reporting on the Middle East, I would be nervous if I owned an adjacent transponder.
The whole satellite and communication infrastructure is a New Orleans waiting to happen. Start looking now.