Military Expands Mass Surveillance Capabilities: Building Satellite Spy Centre

Prague, Feb 20 (CTK) – A space surveillance centre to assess and process satellite and aerial images for the military intelligence service (VZ) as well as NATO will be built in the Czech Republic in July, VZ spokeswoman Alzbeta Riethofova said in a press release today.


Along with intelligence and military purposes, the images from the centre may be useful for rescuers, for instance, when monitoring natural disasters.


The Defence Ministry will cover the costs of the SATCEN CR centre that will be set up as of July 1.


“The centre’s building costs are to reach hundreds of millions of crowns and its annual operation will cost dozens of millions,” Riethofova told CTK.


Daily Pravo writes today about the centre, saying it will be able to deliver data as of 2020.


The Centrum, which will need some 50 experts in total, will fall under the VZ that has experience with the use of similar satellite and aerial images, Riethofova said.


Experts will gain images from the commonly available súace research satellites, but the centre will also have its equipment to receive images directly from the orbits.


“The centre staff will process and assess the data subsequently,” Riethofova added.


“It is not just about the extraordinary properties of the system, which is able to deliver the required information within tens of minutes. It also attests to the fact that our specialists are not falling behind world experts in anything,” Defence Minister Karla Slechtova (for ANO) told Pravo about the centre’s qualities.


Both the NATO command and the Czech military and state offices will be able to send requirements to the centre.


The Czech military may also use data from it for its foreign missions.


They would facilitate the work of soldiers participating in foreign missions as they would be able to inspect the terrain beforehand, such as the impenetrable mountain valleys of Afghanistan, Pravo, citing an expert in space research from the VZ.


In the case of kidnappings, the rescue team will be able to inspect the area of the action several days in advance and to obtain current information, and, consequently, not be taken by surprise by a recently built wall, the expert said.


In case of need, data from the centre may be utilised by the firefighters or rescuers in times of floods or fires. During floods, rescuers will be able to tell exactly where the water has spread.


Satellite images can be also used by the Transport Ministry in supervising highway and bridge constructions.


“Movements of bridges can thus be monitored and landslides can be detected on time. I am sure that this would be appreciated during the construction of the D8 highway,” an expert from the military intelligence working on the centre’s preparation, who requested anonymity, told the daily.


VZ chief Jan Beroun told Pravo that by building the centre, the Czech Republic will create an important unit for NATO and fulfil one of its promises.


“At the same time, we will support the Czech integrated rescue system and the work of other state institutions,” Beroun said.


According to NATO requirements, the centre must start fulfilling NATO tasks by the end of 2019 at the latest. By then, the VZ will be recruiting experts and carry out a trial operation.


NATO representatives consider space research an area of key importance in terms of the NATO security.