The United States has partnered with 15 NATO member countries, as well as invitees Finland and Sweden, to launch the “largest space project” in history that would facilitate the collection of data from space. The initiative, titled “Alliance Persistent Surveillance from Space” (APSS), is intended to significantly enhance the alliance’s intelligence and surveillance capabilities, as well as provide essential support to NATO military missions and operations, according to a Feb. 15 statement. Mircea Geoană, NATO’s deputy secretary general, commented that the project is a great example of civil-military cooperation, providing a powerful asset to the intelligence toolbox.
The other participants in the APSS program are Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, France, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Spain, Turkey, and the United Kingdom. The initiative will create a “virtual constellation” of both national and commercial space assets, such as satellites, utilizing the latest advances in commercial space technology. This will help streamline data collection, sharing, and analysis among NATO Allies and with the NATO command structure, while also generating cost savings.
Wendy Gilmour, NATO assistant secretary-general for defense investment, stated that all 30 NATO member countries, as well as Finland and Sweden, were invited to join the initiative, according to Defense News. All countries who decide to participate in the program are allowed to choose their own level of involvement in the project. Luxembourg has already agreed to provide an early contribution of 16.5 million euros (about $17.7 million) to launch APSS.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg remarked during a news conference in Brussels this month that the suspected Chinese spy balloon, which hovered over the continental United States for days before being shot down off the coast in South Carolina on Feb. 4, highlighted the need for NATO to increase its information-sharing capabilities. He warned that China, as well as Russia, have heavily invested in new military capabilities, including surveillance.
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