Thoughts About European Space and Euro-Atlantic Cooperation
Thoughts About European
Space and Euro-Atlantic Cooperation
To respond to the various American
proposals for “cooperation” in space and defense, Europe must establish a Global
European Space Policy (GESP) which could partially integrate civil and military
domains. It must define and program the means for placing Europe in a more
balanced position vis-à-vis the United States, and develop programs favouring
federation and integration, which demonstrate Europe’s capabilities in the area.
The objective is to provide Europe with
autonomous capacities for access to and control of Space, enabling, among other
things, its industry to be a significant equal partner and not just a mere
subcontractor. Analysis and proposals by Didier Compard (*) Senior
Adviser and International Defense Consultant, Paris, April 25, 2004.
Compard (European-Security Photo Ó)
represents the same challenge today that nuclear deterrence did in the sixties”
(Interview of Michèle Alliot-Marie, Air & Cosmos,
June 13, 2003)
extra-atmospheric space (above 120 km altitude) has always been a strategic
challenge for the security of the world’s major powers.
This mastery of space concerns not only
satellite systems, but more and more, the means of getting into space and all
types of sub-orbital ballistic systems.
The United States has established a clearly
stated policy of Dominance in Space, which represents a challenge for Europe,
and in particular for France, the major European space power.
Europe cannot acquire and conserve the status of major power without disposing
of the technologies and space hardware allowing them:
to evaluate globally the threat in an
to manage crises all over the world relying on
their own assets,
to meet the threats, either by defense, or by a
response capability in a concept of an extended deterrent
to cooperation in a more balanced and equal
fashion with the United States
to be able to continue playing a major role in
these areas, in particular with orbital vehicles and exploration craft.
Control of Space: A Strategic challenge (1)
the technologies relating to space launch vehicles and satellites is a crucial
component of military power.
Beyond the development of ballistic missiles or observation
and telecommunication satellites, the entire scope of modern weaponry today
relies on space capabilities, notably for mastery of the acquisition of
information in real time, and the superiority that this provides on the
theatre of operations.
gathering (imagery or electronic intelligence) high speed data transmission,
surveillance of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, early warning
systems against ballistic missile threats, and positioning systems for aiming
high precision weapons, are some examples showing how important space has become
in modern conflicts.
and tactical from the military standpoint, space is just as important in civil
applications, including commercial applications, which are becoming more and
more vital in our daily lives and in the global economy for transmission of
imagery and data, telephony, terrestrial and aerial navigation, and weather
States has, of course, made space systems a privileged instrument of its
strategic, political, economic and scientific pre-eminence. America alone
supplies 80% of the public financial investments for space in the world, and the
figure would reach 95% if one includes military space.
America makes are not on the decline, but are increasing. The combined amount of
budgets devoted to space, in both the civil and military domains, represents an
annual total of around 40 billion dollars, with the FY 2005 budget for
unclassified military space programs alone reaching $12.4 billion.
considerable amounts reflect the political priority granted to space, and the
firm determination to maintain the American technological advance. Besides the
renewal and the perfecting of the current observation, navigation and
telecommunication satellites, the United States is developing a new generation
of launch vehicles the will compete with European launchers providing and
alternative to Europe’s vehicles.
the new policy for the conquest of space proposed by George W. Bush, the
Moon/Mars plan, could give America a monopoly with the development of new Earth
orbit and extra-terrestrial transportation systems.
But it’s the
Missile Defense program especially, whose architecture was changed to a much
more ambitious form by the Bush administration, that the new developments are
planned. This program includes a major space component with SBIRS surveillance
satellites devoted to early detection of missile firings, but also projects for
interception from and in space, of missiles during their powered phase either by
laser (Space Based Laser), or by launching of exo atmospheric interceptors
(certain of which should be deployed in 2004, and the “Space Based experiment”).
the importance of space in the American strategic doctrine, a new level was
attained in January 2001, when the commission in charge of evaluating the
organization and management of America’s space activities published its report.
The commission was under the authority of Donald Rumsfeld before he became
Secretary of Defense. The report made a sensation by revealing the high degree
of dependency the United States has with regards to space systems, and the
necessity of protecting them from possible attack, so as not to be vulnerable to
a “Pearl Harbour” in space. The theme of controlling space was particularly
stressed, and it covered three aspects: surveillance of space, passive
protection of satellite systems against aggression, and the development of
offensive assets which would deny the use of space to a potential adversary
(enemy or rival).
formally announced by James Roche, Secretary of the US Air Force in the summer
of 2003, by foreseeing the deployment of a fleet of “rapid launch military space
planes” by 2014.
If the 1967
treaty on space forbids the presence of nuclear weapons in space or all other
type of weapons of mass destruction, it doesn’t settle the question of other
types of weapons and defensive assets. We can clearly see that a new controversy
is arising between the United States, or at least those who advocate the
development of space weapons, and a large portion of the international
community, who favour the extension of the application of the 1967 treaty to all
kinds of offensive weapons.
under the cloak of evolutions in technology and geopolitics, a treaty can be
unilaterally denounced (CF: the ABM Treaty).
Defense--with a budget of more than 10 billion dollars per year—is motivated by
objectives that the United States doesn’t conceal:
It is seen
even clearer when in April 2004, Condoleezza Rice declared before the 9/11
Commission, that Missile Defense, in addition to its objective of dissuasion,
“Would also allow America to have a more aggressive foreign policy.”
The United States, however,
invites its allies and “friends” to cooperate with them on Missile Defense:
On June 13, 2002, George W
Bush promised to deploy an antimissile defense system as soon as possible in
order to protect the American people and US forces in the field against the
growing threats we are facing. Because these threats also place allies and
friends in the world in danger, he declared that it is essential that we work
together for our mutual protection, an important task that the ABM treaty
prohibited. He added that the United States will strengthen the dialogue and
cooperation with other nations in the domain of anti-missile defense.
is similar to the Bush plan for the exploration of Moon and Mars, where we find
a single sentence concerning international cooperation in the speech made by
George W. Bush, which remains unclear: “We will invite other nations to share
the challenges and opportunities of this new era of discovery.” And further
on: “We choose to explore space, because doing so improves our lives and
lifts our national spirit.”
officially, it is not the case, Missile Defense and Space exploration are
linked. It is not surprising, therefore, that the former director of the DoD’s
Office of Missile Defense (BMDO), Lt General Lester Lyles, was named to the
presidential committee supervising the Moon-Mars program managed by the former
Under-Secretary to the US Air Force, Pete Aldridge.
clearly affirmed American ambitions, Europe has a bit of difficulty defining its
strategy. Its financial means are not in the same order of magnitude. Between
the total space budget of the European countries and the American space budget,
the ratio is one to three in the civil sector and one to twenty in the military
domain, where only France has truly made a significant effort.
cannot ignore America’s initiative. It must establish a Global European Space
Policy (GESP) which could include, at least partially, the civil and military
sectors. It must define and launch mid and long term programs, to provide the
means of putting itself in a more equal position with respect to the United
States, and develop programs to integrate and demonstrate European capabilities
in this sector.
not mean undertaking a race with the United States in the space asset domain,
for which we do not share all of the same objectives and ambitions. It is,
however, a must to provoke a true awareness in Europe of the risk that space
represents, and to set up an appropriate policy. Without federating the efforts
which today are disbursed, it will be difficult to maintain Europe’s strategic
autonomy in space in a durable manner, and to avoid being technologically
dependent on the United States. In spite of progress in bi- or trilateral
cooperation, much is left to be done to define a real European space policy
worthy of the challenges or the future.
In the area
of telecommunications and observation satellites, if there is a desire for
European cooperation, it will concern the following generations, meaning those
after 2015 for telecommunications, and towards 2012 for observation.
But we must
right now start thinking about what could come afterwards.
areas (electronic intelligence gathering, early warning, laser links) France has
begun philosophising about demonstrators to ensure the feasibility before going
on to operational systems in the corresponding domains.
demonstrators in question are: ESSAIM for electromagnetic intelligence, LOLA for
laser links, and SPIRAL for early warning.
demonstrators are developed nationally (attempts to find cooperating partners
operational systems that follow should be developed in cooperation. We must
think about and plan for these programs now.
capabilities should be complimented by appropriate means (identification of
suspicious satellites, space debris surveillance, status of friendly
satellites…) to respond to Europe’s needs in the surveillance of space.
Capabilities for the surveillance of space will make it possible to control
space operations such as launching, orbital rendezvous or de-orbiting of
satellites at end-of-life.
are emerging in the area of control of space, such as neutralization of
suspicious satellites, launching of mini or micro-satellites on demand,
inspection or refurbishing of orbital structures….
particular, with the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and ballistic
missiles on one hand, and the risks incurred by the obsolescence of strategic
assets of certain traditional nuclear powers, Europe must think about the safety
of its inhabitants. In this framework, we must envisage the means of ballistic
defense, supported by nuclear deterrence, space surveillance and control of
Would it not
be advisable to organize a campaign of information for the French and European
public, explaining the threat and the complementarities of nuclear deterrence
At the same
time, an architecture for space and defense systems should be defined, first in
France, to be adapted to the needs of a certain strategic autonomy for Europe.
France could take the initiative of federating the European vision concerning
proliferation so as to define a European strategy for “Non-proliferation” in the
context of ESDP, as well as one for “Counter-proliferation”.
fact, could be the leader of these reflections, since it has the technical
competence and industries in the strategic “systems of systems” field (nuclear,
space, ballistic, etc.).
concrete step could be European cooperation concerning threat analysis, with the
creation of a “European Intelligence Group” dealing with proliferation and
anti-ballistic strategic defense among other things.
propose the Europeanization of an operational space system for surveillance and
early warning, and would launch a program for demonstration of interceptors,
integrating and federating Europe’s capacities in the area.
Euro-Atlantic cooperation would not be obscured, but if America is to take us
seriously, we must make global and unified propositions for cooperation. Let’s
show them that we have a project and an objective to develop capabilities in
Europe which will enable us to be in a position of an equal partner in a “New
NATO”, instead of a mere subcontractor as in the JSF partnerships.
concerning astronaut transportation for the Moon-Mars project, Europe must
seriously analyse whether the projects and programs planned meet the objectives
for a possible equitable cooperation with the USA.
The ideas to
be developed are: Research programs, integration and demonstration of Europe’s
capabilities, links between technologies, systems and know-how of civil and
objective to be sought is always to build concrete transatlantic solutions
allowing equalitarian partnerships, industrial and otherwise.
In any case,
new budgets must be found if Europe wants to play a major role in the world, and
if it doesn’t want to be left behind by the Chinese, the Indians, or even the
(*) Didier G. Compard is a Physicist, graduated from the
French École Supérieure de Physique et de Chimie of
Paris and in Astronautics, from the Polytechnic University of New York. He
developed a career in Aerospace industries (EADS) on Nuclear deterrence, space
and strategic weapon systems and as an international Senior Analyst on the
proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction Weapons (WMD).
Now, Senior Advisor and International Defense Consultant,
he is an adviser for different industry and political groups for questions
related to the European Security and Defense Policy (ESDP), Space technologies
and systems and proliferation.
(1) (CF: Article by Senator
Xavier de Villepin; Dossiers de l’Abécédaire Parlementaire, 2nd