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U.S. Defense Department Buys Over $7 Billion of Commercial Satellite Imagery Support

U.S. Defense Department Buys Over $7 Billion of Commercial Satellite Imagery Support

The United States Department of Defense contracted with two commercial companies providing satellite imagery to support its operations across the globe. The value of the contracts announced over the last few days is $7.35 billion.

GeoEye Imagery Collection Systems (GEOY) and DigitalGlobe (DGI) will share work on this effort. Both companies will utilize part of the funds to build new satellites and get them into orbit.

The contracts will last for ten years and the companies will be paid an amount monthly for the data they provide to the Pentagon’s National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGIA).

The NGIA makes maps and charts among other duties while also supporting the American and its Allies military forces with imagery and other data. As anyone who has used Google Maps or Earth knows commercially provided imagery is getting to be of higher-and-higher quality and while it won’t provide the real time intelligence that classified assets might it does support operational planning.

The fact that the Pentagon plans to spend over $700 million a year on this type of support demonstrates its usefulness.

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Despite Gates’ Proposed Reforms New Satellites to go Forward

As Federal Computer Week writes the Obama administration has decided to go ahead and begin development of a new spy satellite. In the past these black space programs have been heavily criticized for not only cost and schedule growth but the fact that due to their secret nature that there is no public oversight. Part of the impetus for this system is the recent North Korean missile launch. For monitoring programs like this and the Iranian nuclear one satellites are the most efficient way of doing so. This system will also utilize commercial imagery systems that are available. Of interest an earlier attempt at upgrading the U.S. capability, the Future Imagery Architecture project, was not successful. Perhaps this program will be able to demonstrate that Secretary Gates has been able to reform some aspects of acquisition at the Pentagon.

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Lockheed Martin to train intelligence analysts

Lockheed Martin was awarded a contract from the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency (NGIA) to provide training to its employees and other intelligence analysts across DoD. See a press release here. The contract has a value of $32 M and is an option on an existing contract. Lockheed Martin is responsible for running the in-house training for the agency. NGIA is what used to be called the Defense Mapping Agency (DMA) and provides maps, charts and other information to the US defense services and other agencies.

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