Sunday, November 11, 2007

But Where is Intruder?

Philip Taubman did an impressive and gargantuan front-page piece (the size rarely seen in print any more) on the troubled National Reconnaissance Office in the Nov. 11 Sunday New York Times. The bulk of the piece was on the multi-billion-dollar optical spy satellite, Future Imagery Architecture, its cancellation, and Boeing's failures. Taubman tangentially mentioned NRO's problems with Misty (a stealth signals-intelligence satellite) and SBIRS (Space-Based Infrared Surveillance) as well. But there was a big gaping hole where Intruder and IOSA (Integrated Overhead SIGINT Architecture) should be. This is all the more unusual since Boeing was the prime contractor on IOSA and Intruder, as well.
NRO's biggest federal partner in space is the National Security Agency, and the two collaborate on satellites that listen in to communications from space, using unfurlable antennas as big as three football fields. Yet it seems that every time the major media talk about spy satellites and NRO's problems, the subject of signals intelligence remains off limits. C'mon, you guys, of course it's sensitive, but IOSA/Intruder was as big a boondoggle as FIA! Is anyone (besides NSA) listening?

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