The New York Times reported that the Pentagon and the CIA are preventing issuing licenses to Roscosmos for construction of GLONASS monitoring stations on the United States territory. The application was filed in the U.S. State Department in May of 2012, but the Americans are still pondering and are not in a hurry to return the favor of allowing GPS tracking stations in Russia. Their concerns are justified, and this is a signal to respond.
In October of last year, Vitaly Davydov who was then deputy head of Roscosmos, stated that the agency planned to place eight stations in the United States. He also stressed that there were 19 measuring stations of the American GPS system in Russia. However, The New York Times claims that there are no such stations on the territory of the Russian Federation.
"Indeed, officially they do not have a single station," told Pravda.Ru Victor Nepoklonov, the Deputy Executive Director of the Association "GLONASS / GNSS Forum." "In the Russian Federation there are over ten monitoring IGS stations, an international service of global navigation satellite systems for geodynamics, essentially GPS, it is their service, and this is how it was called before.
What do we want to place on the territory of the United States? We are creating a differential correction monitoring service (DCM) of GLONASS satellite navigation system, and we want to place items of this service on their territory for the mutual advantage, because they will monitor not only the GLONASS area, but also GPS area. I think that a purely political factor has played its role here, this is not a very opportune time, but over time the parties will agree," the expert said. Answering the question of whether the United States was spying on Russia using GPS, he said that if it did, it would be easy to detect, but generally there were other ways to do it.
"GLONASS is a system of dual use, and any element of it, whether it's a ground station or a satellite could be used for military purposes. So, of course, Americans do have grounds for concerns. But politics plays a big role here. If the leadership of the two countries decides that this form of cooperation between the two countries is possible, the Americans will allow us to build these stations on their territory," an anonymous source from the "missile department" who talked to RIA-Novosti agency agreed with Nepoklonov.
DCM stations are a necessary addition to a satellite navigation system as they provide meter positioning accuracy. In Russia DCM services are widely used, and therefore provide a fairly accurate positioning in the northern hemisphere. There are no such stations in the Southern Hemisphere yet, with the exception of three stations located in Antarctica, so the accuracy is slightly behind the northern part of the globe. To improve it, Roskosmos plans to install additional stations. One station was built in Brazil, and 34 countries where additional construction is possible are reviewing the possibility of construction. Negotiations with Australia and Spain, for example, are already at the stage of completion.
It can be concluded that the concerns are valid and mutual, but for some reason Russia is not worried, while the Americans are alarmed. A CIA agent told The New York Times that these stations would help to organize Russian espionage and improve the pointing accuracy of Russian weapons. Considering the opinion of Russian experts, it is difficult to argue with him. Therefore, the question is not to the U.S. , but Russian intelligence agencies and radar space intelligence as well as the FSB. Do they track similar activities of the U.S., and should Russia abandon the aforementioned IGS systems on the Russian territory?
The Americans are also concerned about the commercial aspect of the issue. Last week, Mike D. Rogers, a Republican senator from the state of Alabama, wrote a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and CIA Director James Clapper, demanding to assess Russia's proposals in terms of more than just safety. He said that he would like to understand why the U.S. should be interested in promoting the Russian system GLONASS, a competitor of the GPS, when the use of GPS in the world is a clear advantage for the United States in many ways.
The Americans are right here as well. "Accusations of "espionage" are an element of non-competitive struggle for multi-billion dollar market where the U.S. and Russia have clashed," argued the director of the Center for Analysis of World Arms Trade Igor Korotchenko "Both countries intend to promote navigation and space services to consumers, and GLONASS is the growing competition for the Americans," the expert believes.
The decision to grant a license to Roscosmos has been deferred pending receipt of further information from the CIA and other agencies, the White House stated. However, even if Russia does not receive the approval of the State Department, it can always build such installations in the countries neighboring with the U.S. and cover if not the entire but most of the United States territory. The deployment of GLONASS began in October of 1982. On September 24, 1993 the system was officially put into operation. At the time many talked about the high cost and lack of prospects.
Now it is obvious that a unique and competitive product has been created. It provided communications systems based on satellite systems outside of the control of the West. The demand for these services will only grow thanks to the revelations of Snowden. Russia's geopolitical future depends on the technological capabilities of the Russian defense industry to implement the project of building a global communications system that can be built based on GLONASS, and the Americans understand it and will impede the process as much as they can.
Along with the U.S. and Russia, such systems are being developed by China and the EU - Baidu and Galileo, respectively.