The Pentagon is so starved for bandwidth that it’s paying a Chinese satellite firm to help it communicate and share data.
U.S. troops operating on the African continent are now using the recently-launched Apstar-7 satellite to keep in touch and share information. And the $10 million, one-year deal lease — publicly unveiled late last week during an ordinarily-sleepy Capitol Hill subcommittee hearing — has put American politicians and policy-makers in bit of a bind. Over the last several years, the U.S. government has publicly and loudly expressed its concern that too much sensitive American data passes through Chinese electronics — and that those electronics could be sieves for Beijing’s intelligence services. But the Pentagon says it has no other choice than to use the Chinese satellite. The need for bandwidth is that great, and no other satellite firm provides the continent-wide coverage that the military requires.
“That bandwidth was available only on a Chinese satellite,” Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Space Policy Doug Loverro told a House Armed Services Committee panel, in remarks first reported by InsideDefense.com. “We recognize that there is concerns across the community on the usage of Chinese satellites to support our warfighter. And yet, we also recognize that our warfighters need support, and sometimes we must go to the only place that we can get it from.”