back to article Galileo euro-satnav 'driven by French military', says sacked CEO

The classified US diplomatic cables allegedly leaked to the world by American private soldier Bradley Manning have caused ructions in Europe this week: the CEO of a German firm building satellites for the Galileo satnav project has been fired for apparently telling US diplomats that Galileo is a waste of taxpayers money and …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    French military

    Cue: Lots of jokes about the term 'French military' being an oxymoron.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I think it's only Americans that make that joke

      In Europe, France's armies have been respected for centuries.

      Of course, the Americans are being a bit hypocritical; without France holding their hand, they'd still be British.

      1. Rick Brasche

        only our "media" makes the joke

        those of us who either served or are family with those who do, know otherwise.

        The same media that makes stories of a French government uncooperative in Iraqi operations but fails to notice the constant practice with French Mirages doing touch-n-goes off of American carriers for example.

    2. Tom 13

      Not the French military per se,

      French military VICTORIES is the oxymoron.

      1. Daniel Garcia 2

        The reason why we don't speak French

        it is the same one that why we don't speak German:

        The Russian winter.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        After all....

        The Champs Élysées is tree lined so that German soldiers can walk in the shade.

        Still, they're better than the Italians....

        (Puts lighter fuel and matches back in pocket)

        1. Graham Wilson

          @Anonymous Coward -- Are the trees deciduous?

          Are the trees deciduous?

          We're planning and we need to know when we can attack.

          ...Err sorry, I mean stroll by.


        2. Emilio Desalvo

          Ah, the Italians...

          You seem to forget that if The Great War ended on the Western Front on November 11th, 1918 it was only because Italy had obtained with the rest of the armistice the use of the Austrian railways to move the Italian Army to the Austro-German border, and was preparing to invade Germany.

          That's why in Italy the end of World War One is celebrated on November 4th...

          Comando Supremo, 4 novembre 1918, ore 12

          La guerra contro l'Austria-Ungheria che, sotto l'alta guida di S.M. il Re, duce supremo, l'Esercito Italiano, inferiore per numero e per mezzi, iniziò il 24 maggio 1915 e con fede incrollabile e tenace valore condusse ininterrotta ed asprissima per 41 mesi, è vinta.

          La gigantesca battaglia ingaggiata il 24 dello scorso ottobre ed alla quale prendevano parte cinquantuno divisioni italiane, tre britanniche, due francesi, una cecoslovacca ed un reggimento americano, contro settantatré divisioni austroungariche, è finita.

          La fulminea e arditissima avanzata del XXIX Corpo d'Armata su Trento, sbarrando le vie della ritirata alle armate nemiche del Trentino, travolte ad occidente dalle truppe della VII armata e ad oriente da quelle della I, VI e IV, ha determinato ieri lo sfacelo totale della fronte avversaria. Dal Brenta al Torre l'irresistibile slancio della XII, della VIII, della X armata e delle divisioni di cavalleria, ricaccia sempre più indietro il nemico fuggente.

          Nella pianura, S.A.R. il Duca d'Aosta avanza rapidamente alla testa della sua invitta III armata, anelante di ritornare sulle posizioni da essa già vittoriosamente conquistate, che mai aveva perdute.

          L'Esercito Austro-Ungarico è annientato: esso ha subito perdite gravissime nell'accanita resistenza dei primi giorni e nell'inseguimento ha perduto quantità ingentissime di materiale di ogni sorta e pressoché per intero i suoi magazzini e i depositi. Ha lasciato finora nelle nostre mani circa trecentomila prigionieri con interi stati maggiori e non meno di cinquemila cannoni.

          I resti di quello che fu uno dei più potenti eserciti del mondo risalgono in disordine e senza speranza le valli che avevano disceso con orgogliosa sicurezza.

          Il capo di stato maggiore dell'esercito, il generale Diaz

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Well, the french military

      used to be efficient enough until 1879/71. My home town and the srrounding villages were burned down by them roughly every 30 years from 1689 until 1952(!), and between the 16th and 19th century the border moved from Toul to the Rhine. Very funny, those jokes about the french military.

      Take a look at Heidelberg and why its so romantic. And take a close look at the names on the "Arc de Triomphe".

      AC, because we are all such good friends.

    4. Naughtyhorse

      okay then...

      for sale:

      french assault rifle

      never fired,

      only been dropped twice.

      ai thankyew

  2. The Indomitable Gall

    Well... yeah...

    I'm getting the feeling Lewis is a bit dismissive of Galileo. So, what, we're supposed to build our military capacity dependent on the playground bully's tech? No thanks. If satnav is a military tool, we can't rely on someone else's.

    But of course, come World War III, the first casualties will be the satellites. Maybe we should be building our infrastructure around something less fragile.....

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Airstrip One

      Lewis, of course, thinks we should hand over our entire defence budget to the USA and became their servants. So the thought that other Europeans would want political and military independence from has never occurred to him. Well, its occurred to the rest of the EU enough to actually pay for Galileo.

      From the civilian point of view GPS as its stands isn't accurate enough and Galileo will be a major improvement for consumers, something Lewis admits although it must chaff with his Pentagon bosses.

    2. F111F

      Completely Dependent

      Considering Europe IS completely dependent on the US to get anything done militarily, and has been for the past 60 years or so, your statement about being dependent on the "playground bully" strikes me as being a bit petulant. I mean, you Europeans couldn't even get the Balkans settled down without a huge US presence to not only employ force, but to coordinate the entire scenario. Frankly, it's been the US pushing our European allies hard for decades to properly spend on upgrading equipment, training, exercises, etc. The Brits are top tier, then Germans and French, and then Italians, and then everyone else as far as being able to actually defend themselves and project power to secure national interests (which includes keeping the peace in Europe itself).

      BTW, it's been this "playground bully" that's given you free access to the playground for the past six decades, so if you want to strke out on your own, go for it. Good luck, it's a big world out there.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Missing the point.

        UK and France etc build and export weapons which they sell. Those customers would prefer to have the option to fire at targets of their choice not having the US having a veto. Similarly with weapons used by EU nations, having the US determine who they can and cannot go to war against is a violation of sovereignty. The UK dependant on US missiles in the Falklands war was an issue, now European countries have their own air-to air missiles, cruise missiles, pilot-less drones all of which give them complete control once Galileo is operational. Once automated warfare becomes the norm and we get rid of the uniformed public servants, Galileo will become even more crucial.

        Europeans are building their own independent capabilities, for instance the A400M, far from encouraging this sort of independence the US and its agents such as Lewis continually snipe away

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          A400M? Bad example...

          A poor, overpriced, designed by committee project that manages to fail most if it's requirements.

          It's late, expensive and has a poor load capacity in relation to unit cost. We should buy more C17 or C130 and dump the A400M.

          On the missile projects though, you are quite right - some very neat kit coming through.

          1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. The Indomitable Gall

        Completely Dependent


        The first Yugoslavia thing was a mess, where a bunch of peace-keepers did sweet FA while being shot at.

        The Kosovo thing was an illegal invasion by NATO, not sanctioned by the UN, where a bunch of cowards with big guns stood back and bombed seven shades of sh*t out of civilians and military alike, blowing up a Chinese embassy, the entire civil infrastructure of the capital of Serbia and a fleeing band of the very same Kosovar refugees we said we were there to save.

      3. jason 7


        Ermm no the USA didnt save our necks in WW2.

        Nope not at all. In fact if you watch any US made WW2 history documentary or movie from the past 15 years, then its pretty obvious, the UK, France, Russia, Australia, Canada etc. were not involved at all.

        WW2 was purely between the USA, Germany and Japan. I have no idea what the rest of the world was up to, sleeping maybe? Especially between 1939-42.

        No one else was involved. Sorry but that's what current history tells us.

  3. It wasnt me
    Thumb Down

    What is wrong with the world?

    Transfer ownership of the existing GPS to the UN (ITU). Buy it off the septics if they want.

    Share the ongoing running and replacement costs.

    Everyone gets accurate GPS, for the cost of only one system.

    Isn't it a shame we live in a world where this could never happen?

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      The USA won't sell.

      The GPS satellite STILL carry the high-resolution encrypted signals. They're considered a key American military asset (since they allow for precision-guided long-distance smart weapons--saves money and lives), so the USA will never give it up.

      That's the reasoning behind Galileo. If you can't buy the tech, build your own.

    2. Anton Ivanov

      This does not work.

      GPS civilian use is a freebee. There is no commercial model to use it which is exactly the reason why Galileo failed to attract private financial funding.

      So do we like it or not GPS systems will _ALWAYS_ exist on the back of military funding as that is the sole reason for them to be viable. This means that they cannot be transfered to ITU or any other organisation because they will lose their funding.

      As far as EU doing Galilleo that was probably a bad decision all along for the same exact reason. The funding will not be there to sustain it in the long term especially in the presence of 2 fully blown GPS systems operating off a military budget.

      1. Naughtyhorse

        since they allow for precision-guided long-distance smart weapons

        so no more 'blue on blues' then

        what a relief

        mines the one wil all the kevlar in the back

    3. F111F


      ...up, oh, say one trillion dollars and we'll be happy to sell it to the UN. That should pay for a very nice replacement system.

      1. Terry H

        Charming Idea

        Well except for the part where the US pays most of the UN's bills. So the US would probably have to give the UN 1.5 trillion dollars to account for the 75% waste. Then the UK kicks in about 10,000,000, the Germans and French 500,000 each and everyone else just promises to pay "their fair share, once they see the results".

        How about we abandon the UN concept. Sell off the New York City real estate and use THAT money to fund new satellites?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        You will see this idea adopted by march, when they have to bail out Morgan (who are rumored to be a bit too short on silver). May not be enough, though.

        AC, as I am as disinterested in certain american habits as is Julian Assange.

  4. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    2. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  5. Paul Crawford Silver badge

    No surprise here - move along

    I am in favour of Galileo just because I think the EU should have the technological capabilities to design, build and operate sat-nav on its own. Compared to how our glorious leaders were prepared to piss away £Billions on oppressive ID cards, this seems like money well spent.

    But I always laughed at the assertions that it could some how pay for itself. That was typical of two-faced politicians desperate for a public justification, but no one with an ounce (or few grams) of technical sense would believe it.

  6. Arnold Lieberman
    Thumb Down

    Looking forward... the French version of t'internet.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      You're too late

      It's been and gone. Minitel. Look it up. Way ahead of the internet but never really caught on outside of France.

      1. byrresheim
        Thumb Up

        And great it was.

        Everybody I knew had a small, slightly ugly, brownish terminal sitting somewhere, and micropayment worked. Every business had a page. Thus you could order your late-night pizza, your theatre tickets and even your tennis court.

        The Germans had the exact same system but priced it out of viability.

    2. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

      i don't need no stinkin' title

      I believe it's called Minitel...

    3. Naughtyhorse


      thats all

  7. Anonymous Coward

    Single point of failure.

    Always seems to me like a good idea to have an entire redundant backup system for something as critical to our infrastructure as GPS has become.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "there is an encrypted military GPS signal"

    Is there? I thought they did away with it when they did away with the introduced error in the civilian signal. It became redundant as both signals ended up offering the same accuracy.

    1. AdamT

      i think...

      ... although I'm wary of "fry"ing this one, that there is still the feature of locally skewing the civilian signal to misrepresent your actual location yet have military receivers remove this effect with the encrypted data and get the real location

    2. SImon Hobson Silver badge

      Yes there is

      Be careful to avoid confusion between SA (Selective Availability) which used to artificially degrade the main signal for those without the keys - in effect making civil equipment less accurate than military kit using the same signal.

      Separately however there is a second (encrypted) signal, on a completely different frequency, which (due to various reason which include the variation in signal propagation speed with variations of moisture content in the air) provides a very much enhanced level of accuracy.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Much rather...

    ...have my money wasted on satellites than pointless farm subsidies.

    Then again, I'd much rather just pay less tax!

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Maybe not the whole truth..

    Well according to another cable (001476), Mr Smutny was at the US embassy to try and sell them some of his optical sat spy kit. No wonder then that he made bad comments on the Galileo project, which is something the US does not greatly approve of - they even threaten to shoot the sats out of the sky!

    It's not like he would comment to them on how it was important for the EU to have some technological independence in times of conflict, or how good it would be to have at least some ITAR-free technology they could sell to China/India/etc.

    I'm sure he doesn't like the French so in a way he wasn't lying completely, but maybe his comments have to be taken in light of his surroundings.

    Unfortunately he was caught in the US information machine which records and transcribes everything (that's what amazes me the most in this cablegate), and got "unclassified" a bit too early in his case..

  11. Tom 15

    Galileo is pointless...

    Galileo is pointless for independence from the USA. If we're attacking a target the US don't mind us hitting we can use GPS, if we're not they'll simply jam Galileo.

  12. lee harvey osmond

    particularly French military interests ... French nukes and smartbombs

    This would the same France of which it is alleged "they have enough nukes to blow up the whole world twice ... of course, being French, they might miss the first time"?

  13. JaitcH

    Two systems offer redundancy protection

    The Euro system cost is pittance of around $600 million and is a bargain for the benefits that will accrue from it, especially when compared with wastage incurred under the farm subsidies.

    The generosity of the Americans, coupled with the good deed by President Clinton - who signed the order resulting in increased accuracy, is acknowledged but given the 'politics' involved with the GPS system a secondary system controlled by a separate political entity is wise.

    ATM's, public transport trains, etc. all depend on GPS so it is just plain smart to have the Euro system.

    1. Mayhem

      ATM relies on gps?

      I'm sorry what?

      In what kind of situation does your cash dispenser need a satellite location?

      They have a dedicated line to the local exchange, and a power plug. In occasional cases, there might be an alarm line as well. Thats it for external connections. And given the kind of environment in which atms are installed, where could even it get the signal from?

      As for trains, they use electrical switches located on the tracks to identify the presence or lack of a train. No GPS there either. Look up railway switching networks, a controller knows what train is where before it even starts moving. The system is only accurate to the nearest block, but trains don't start and stop on a dime, and its not like the train can easily go anywhere other than down the line.

      Buses now, they use GPS to provide the pretty little next bus in x minutes signs, based on predetermined route information. But trains and atms?

      1. Clive Galway

        @ATM relies on GPS?

        I can see at least two uses for this.

        GPS is the best way to get ultra accurate time at a reasonable cost. I can see many reasons why an ATM would want ultra-accurate timekeeping. The next best way (at reasonable cost) would probably be NTP, but who wants to connect an ATM to the internet?

        Also, if the ATM is physically moved as part of a theft, knowing it is moving, and where it is could potentially allow it to phone home and let police track it.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Much easier solutions.

          ATMs can simply poll for time when they phone home for a transaction or whatever. And you've already mentioned NTP for those who connect to the Internet (and some do--these usually connect home by a VPN tunnel or employ a separate but still IP-based intranet). As for detecting theft, precise movement knowledge isn't needed to detect that; it would be easier to install an accelerometer.

  14. andrews handle


    I remember a story about the British and French sharing the telegraph service to Africa. It worked fine until they went to war and the British turned off French access.

    It is worth remembering that today's friends might not be tomorrow's, and therefore maintaining a viable alternative

  15. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Just to clear up a few things

    There is still an encrypted second military GPS signal.

    Having two frequencies lets you cancel out some atmospheric effects to get better accuracy - it also helps you spot some forms of spoofing.

    ICBMs do not rely on GPS, simply because the first way you now you are in a proper grown up war with the Rooskies is that all your GPS sats suddenly get destroyed.

    There was a project to fit GPS to Trident5 to make it a non (or very low yield) - nuclear sub-strategic system to take out heavily defended targets but it got officially cancelled (although may still be running) . The problem is that it makes some very big northern neighbours slightly nervous if you start lunching things from subs over their air space to hit some tinpot dictator in the middle east.

    The reason for Galileo is to backhand Eu aerospace companies - that's also the purpose of 99% of the Eu countries militaries, if anybody doesn't know this I have a bridge to sell them in London.

    It does have it's uses though. Suppose the US decided in the next trade war, or if we refused their next invitation to democratize some country, the US reduced civil GPS accuracy over Europe to 50-100m would that inconvenience anybody?

    I seem to remember a similar Mr Page arguing for keeping Loran open for just this reason.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Yes to Galileo and the russian one too

    As many countries as possible should put up positioning satellites. The more up there the less likely the system is to fail, and the more precise it will be.

    You know if Europe puts up their own, and Russia does too, there will be tri-band receivers in no time.

  17. Tom 13

    This Yank thinks that even though we shouldn't willy nilly sell our

    encryption codes for the military signal for just the reasons stated by Charles 9, that its a good thing you you all to have a separate system. Provides redundancy for ours if the Russians, the Chinese or Microsoft hit it with something other than missiles.

    And has up voted most posts to the same effect.

  18. Terry H

    ICBM Guidance

    I have never heard of GPS being used for nuclear ICBM guidance. I don't think GPS would work in the EMP rich environment of high yield nuclear detonations.

    The monstrously brain dead plan to use Trident missiles as kinetic kill weapons was to use GPS. I'm not sure it's current status. I think it was mostly scraped. I can think of no more ironic end for the human race than replacing a $100,000 bomb with a $20,000,000 missile and in the process trigger a full scale nuclear war. Sometimes you really have to wonder about the decision making capacity of our leaders.

  19. Dennis Wilson


    The Galileo satnav system is needed because we are at the mercy of a foriegn governments satnav. Our satnav will be used for life critical perposes, such as air and sea rescue sevices, the european airlines, even european shipping can use the Galileo satnav. The USA have said from the word go that they will degrade the signal without warning should the need arise. Because of that threat the USA system can never ever be considered reliable or safe enough for any of those tasks.

    There is also the massed view of the average person in europe that we need our own just because it is our own.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton


    Isn't Galileo like ten years behind schedule?

    Another 10 years of paid for non-performance and how long to endure?

  21. Graham Marsden
    Dead Vulture

    Once again...

    ... Lewis Page gives us his standard "Why would anyone want anything that isn't US manufactured and supplied and to which they have the keys to?" spiel...

    Here's a hint, Lewis. I'll sell you a car, but reserve the right to tell you when and where you can drive it if I feel like it.

    Is that ok by you?

  22. Andrew Jones 2

    have to wonder.....

    Will "our" system also have a feature to degrade accuracy over specific areas of the world? Might not seem a lot of point with the number of other services there will be - but it might not hurt to design it in....

  23. Potemkine Silver badge

    Self defence

    "with GPS already free and as dependable as most people could reasonably ask for" - at least as long as the Pentagon says so! If Europe wants to be free and strong, it has to be independent.

    It's weird to see that so many in UK trust US so blindly to give the Pentagon the keys of their nuclear arsenal, and rely on the US to defend its national soil.

    In UK there is a constant euro-bashing in the name of independence when in the facts it is a US poodle. How weird.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      re: constant euro-bashing

      There's plenty of pro-European anti-USA-imperialism thought in the UK too, but I guess that's just not as amusing as stuff like the Tea Party shenanigans so doesn't get as much exposure.

  24. Alan Brown Silver badge

    A400 - lewis is right

    It's too big for frontline work and too small for infrastructure haulage.

    A horse designed by committee

This topic is closed for new posts.

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021