(NSI News Source Info) WASHINGTON - April 13, 2009: The US government has endorsed a plan to build a new generation of spy satellites, although funding to boost the Pentagon's imaging capacity still needs congressional approval. Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair said Tuesday that his agency and the Department of Defense had finalized a plan to modernize the fleet of US observation satellites. "Imagery is a core component of our national security that supports our troops, foreign policy, homeland security and the needs of our intelligence community," Blair said in a statement. He said the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), which oversees all US spy agencies, had studied the need for the "next generation of electro-optical satellites," and stressed that the government needs "to move forward now." US media said the program would require some 10 billion dollars, although a DNI spokesperson told AFP that the cost of the plan is classified. Republican lawmaker Pete Hoekstra, who sits on the House Intelligence Committee, told AFP that he would "not make any judgement" until he sees the plan. But, he said, the committee "will have a briefing as soon as we get back to Washington" on April 20 after the spring congressional recess, "and we'll study this very closely." The US government canceled a similar program in 2005 because it was deemed too expensive. "When it comes to supporting our military forces and the safety of Americans, we cannot afford any gaps in collection," Blair said Tuesday. "We are living with the consequences of past mistakes in acquisition strategy, and we cannot to do so again."
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