22 January 2014

South Africa: Will Defence Intelligence Be Launching a Spy Satellite On 27 February 2014?

press release

The Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, must tell us whether the Kondor-E satellite, reportedly scheduled to be launched from Baikonur Cosmodrome, in Kazakhstan, on 27 February 2014, is being launched for Defence Intelligence.

We know that on 19 May 2006 a contract, with an initial cost of R1.2 billion, was signed with a Russian company called NPO Mashinostroyenia, to develop a Kondor-E radar imaging satellite for Defence Intelligence under "Project Flute".

The satellite contract is believed to have been bungled because in the end, Defence Intelligence would have no control over the satellite and would not be able to operate it from South Africa.

We also know that:

The first launch of a Kondor satellite, developed by NPO Mashinostroyenia, reportedly took place from Baikonur Cosmodrome on 27 July 2013, for the Russian military; and

That second launch of a Kondor-E satellite, developed by NPO Mashinostroyenia, was reportedly being planned for an "undisclosed foreign customer" in 2013, but did not take place.

However, a Kondor-E ("E1") satellite will reportedly be launched, from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, on 27 February 2014, as part of several planned satellite launches by Russia.

What we now need to know is whether this Kondor-E satellite will be launched for Defence Intelligence?

We also need to know:

Whether there is an on-going project to develop a radar imaging satellite;

How the project to develop the radar imaging satellite was bungled;

Who, following the investigation by the Auditor-General, and the Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence, was held accountable for the bungle; and

How much has been spent on the project to develop a radar imaging satellite?

The Minister cannot remain silent about the billion rand satellite bungle by Defence Intelligence.

David Maynier, Shadow Minister of Defence and Military Veterans

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