Military service branches may start relying more on government-owned satellites and unmanned planes for their imagery needs as a result of the fiscal 2013 budget request, Reuters reports.
While the U.S. government has not provided concrete details on its imagery spending plans, the report indicates the proposed budget includes cuts to commercial imagery contracts from $540 million to $250 million.
The report said the reduction is part of the broader budget plan to halve up to $7.3 billion in options in the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency’s contracts with two firms.
GeoEye Inc. and DigitalGlobe Inc. hold contracts to provide the government with satellite imagery.
Steve Wallach, GeoEye’s senior vice president for product integration, told Reuters that demand for digital imagery.
He noted that the company is still supporting GeoEye-1 and is readying GeoEye-2 with Lockheed Martin for launch next year.
Air Force Gen. Robert Kehler, head of U.S. Strategic Command, said he thinks the military will be able to handle the expected cuts.
Kehler said the decision to rely on government-owned satellites is budget-driven and added the change also reflects the increase of imagery from government satellites.
Additional military leaders, however, have voiced concerns over the cuts since they base many daily operations on commercial imagery.