$48M a Pop
So if they are launching $48,000,000 worth of satellites per op how does this compare to what is currently spent?
Though if it saves lives money should not matter.
The fighter-deployed satellites in DARPA's latest plan - which will deploy them in orbits so low they burn up in a month - will be built by Raytheon, which reckons it can do the job for $2m a pop. SeeMe* was announced last March, as an intermediate step between surveillance drones, which have limited airtime, and spy …
The sats are 2 million a pop so its not $48M a pop.
If you look at the costs involved in changing a position of a spy satellite, this is relatively cheaper and it allows for more of a continuous upgrade in terms of technology. (How often can you launch a big bird? )
The interesting thing would be if you could place a mini sat in geo synchronous orbit over the target.
Assuming that you can get in to the airspace over the target in the first place.
I don't know if you could launch this from an SR-71, but something capable of that high of an altitude and speed...
"The interesting thing would be if you could place a mini sat in geo synchronous orbit over the target."
Firstly: I think you mean "geostationary", because any other "geo synchronous orbit" moves around and doesn't stay over the target.
Secondly: it costs a bloody fortune to get something into geostationary orbit, because geostationary orbit is so very very very high.
Thirdly: picture resolution of the target will be terrible, because geostationary orbit is so very very very high.
Fourthly: geostationary orbit is over the equator, which is fine if the target happens to be on or near the equator, but is increasingly useless the further the target is from the equator.
These "releases" are usually just misinformation and propaganda intended to send the commies off on a wild goose chase. Largely smoke and mirrors intended to make the willy-waving look more impressive. I (and I'm sure all the commies) certainly see no reason to suspect that this one's any different.
flexible launch platform, check (anywhere Lester's car can get but not too far from lunch. Wars in Spain get preferential discounts)...
Orbital capability, check (d'oh! It's right there in the name!)
Of course a bit later on you'll have to have one of THOSE awkward conversations, but providing you emphasise how often defense procurements fall short of goals, how oft we stumble when first we reach for the stars, and especially how much your Board of Directors would benefit from the expertise of recently retired congressmen and generals it'll go fine!
The disposable battlefield low orbit constellation of satellites has been a mainstay of Dale Brown books for many years (Bargain bin at the pound shop or supermarket for details) http://www.amazon.co.uk/Dale-Brown/e/B000APTUTC
This man is obviously a spy...
Where are the "Tin Man" suits is what I want to know?
"Not that 24 satellites are necessary, that just ensures that one turns up every hour and a half. "
This doesn't sound right. The ISS has an orbital period of around 90 minutes and these are presumably a bit lower than that, so each individual satellite should be flying over your battlefield every 90 minutes (or less), meaning with 24 of them you'll have one going over every three or four minutes.
"It doesn't repeat the same ground track, as the planet has turned."
Well, the airborne weapony could just move to keep the war going under the satellite, thus saving money, and affording new and more interesting targets for military types well bored of shelling the same Afghan compounds?
"Wouldn't it be cheaper to just film the war in the same studio they used for the moon landings ?"
A fabulous idea, sir! Instead of showing Black Hawk Down and Zero Dark Thirty as entertainment, film new ones, break 'em up into clips, play them as news, and the US public can believe that they're getting any war they want. Announce the the public that the Allies are bombing AQ in Sudan, suspend all visas to Sudan, and send anybody coming back to Gitmo (to keep the reality quiet that nobody is bombing Sudan other than the Sudanese).
Even better, in this "The Matrix meets Saving Private Ryan" approach, the US could actually win the wars they fight, and leave the nations concerned as peaceful, law abiding democracies. And what's more, it'd work a treat to reduce the US and UK deficits, the foreigners could continue to live in whatever mediaeval squalor and brutality suits them, and maybe for a change the Germans could join the crusade, sending squads of actors and pyrotechnic expertise. Obviously the Frogs wouldn't take part unless it was filmed in French, so we'd have to leave them out (or write in a bit about crooked Frenches selling arms to the baddies).
What is not to like?
It passes west to east every 90 minutes, it also drifts on each orbit. So as I post now, it's at the same point as the UK, but sadly it's south of Africa too :-) Otherwise you'd see it at the same time each evening. As it is, visible passes are in the early morning for the UK. Give it a few weeks and it'll be back to the evening.
If the Israelis can stop that itchy trigger finger then Iran would pass for a testing range in a nearly suitable timescale.
But your suggestion that "current wars are winding down" seems to ignore the palpable delight of polticians and military everywhere that AQ in Africa are now The Threat Of Tomorrow (tm). Renowned British simpleton David Cameron has announced that this not-yet-started war will last thirty years (although what military assets he thinks he'll contribute to this new and exciting party, who knows). I'm sure some US military types are hankering to go back and bomb the dung out of Mogadishu, and there's a whole host of other poor, sub-Saharan African countries just waiting to be bombed.
Oil rarely has much bearing on the real economy of a country, particularly if it isn't democratic. So Algerians are poor because individually they are poorly educated, there's not much infrastructure, nor a good, reliable legal system.
But that doesn't mean no energy reserves. They are the eighth largest gas producer in the world, third largest supplier to Europe. Third largest oil reserves in Africa, with 40% of exports to the US.
... desperately trying to make an acronym fit.
Ballistic Objects Launched Locally Over Conflict Zones
Still, if many can be launched at once from one aircraft, then the jet can carry a load of them, which about sums it up. If they are low enough to last only a few weeks, are they low enough to be intercepted?
The current setup already provides so much data that it can't be processed fast enough to make tactical decisions regarding dynamic targets. By the time the data is received, processed by computer, checked by hand, classified, and transmitted to the battlefield everything but large installations have often moved/changed.
Unless the data from these new birds is going to be sent straight to the battlefield (which won't happen due to security) I can only see more information increasing the logjam.
I thought that as well, it would make a nice kinetic weapon, although you want to make sure it disintergrates into unrecoverable bits and theres no tech left for the enemy to reverse engineer. So no aiming it at lakes or matress factorys.
Another thought springs to mind, Is there any reason they cant design these to be recovered and reused?, seems a bit of a waste to discard them after a few months.
Well as long as they don't become the bottled water of space as we have enough junk up there as it is. That said we could just add to the junk and call it a asteroid defence sheild and cut down on sunshine whilst we are at it.
Maybe the Reg could compete as they have already demonstrated putting something into very high orbit and also recovered it so they have 100% recyle track record as is and very good costings. It is a thought.
The article states that the orbit is low enough that it will decay over time burning up in the earth's atmosphere. Since these are small enough devices, I seriously doubt that anything of size would be left to even hit the surface of the planet.
Of course if this were mainly 2KG of depleted uranium... launched at the surface from that hight?
That could be a different story...
Even with $36m only buying 9 predators, I'm pretty sure those can be used more than once.
I'm hoping I'm missing the point and that this is for something infinitely harder to obtain than aerial imagery - maybe dealing with somewhere that air supremacy isn't a given (hah! doubt the politicians will go for that one), or perhaps providing a temporary boost in satellite data capacity to allow a boatload more uavs to operate...
There are actually loads of justifications I can think of.
I think the real point though is the one mentioned above.
The current network of observation satellites have no good way of getting data directly to the people who potentially have the most use of it.
Why not just make the current system do/support that? My guess is that they can't. The multi-billlion dollar spy sats that are up there right now seem, more or less, all or nothing affairs that are live all the time and designed to be directed and downlinked only from very limited locales. I would also be surprised if they had any sort of access control built in (AKA, there is a reasonable chance that they _can't_ black out something, aka they can be used to spy on anything that happens to be in their FOV).
In order to open up sat surveillance to a wider group it would seem that we need all sorts of things such as the ability to talk to multiple people simultaneously, to be able to be controlled from one location and video downlinked from many more. to have control over who can access it when, where it needs to black out, be cheap enough that no one is going to overly balk at a wider range of people operating it (no one wants a field grunt of any type to have control over something that costs billions with a b, it just won't happen), etc.
Once you get down into it, it probably makes sense for them to be different systems with different capabilities. If someone wants to say that it also gives the US a leg up on the Chinese sat-killing rockets, (put them up almost as fast as someone else can shoot them down), then all the merrier.
Just a WAG on my part, but one which feels something close to realistic.
I'd guess* that a satellite capable of shooting down another would be more expensive, in materials at least, than one that just hangs up there doing more normal satellite kinda stuff. Do you prefer The Doritos of Surveillance? "Shoot down all you want, we'll make more!"
* dammit hplasm, I'm a geek, not a Defense Contractor / Population Control Technician!
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