Russia wants to build a network of GPS ground stations in the United States to improve the accuracy of its own Glonass global positioning system, The New York Times reported
The idea is championed by the State Department, which is seeking ways of improving relations with Moscow, but it's opposed by the national-security establishment on the grounds that an enhanced Russian GPS capability could be used to better guide satellite weapons targeting the U.S. and because the facilities could be used as listening posts to spy on internal American communications.
The Russian request has also run into opposition on Capitol Hill.
In addition to improving accuracy, a presence in the U.S. would help Glonass compete globally with GPS, and benefit the Russian military which fears US dominance in GPS capabilities, according to the Times.
The United States has no ground stations in Russia.
The Russians, like the European Union and China, do not want to be dependent on American global positioning systems technology.
The Russian stations would be packed with electronics and rooftop aerials surrounded by security fences.
The prospect of Russian GPS facilities on U.S. soil leaves Representative Mike Rogers uneasy.
"I would like to understand why the United States would be interested in enabling a GPS competitor, like Russian Glonass, when the world's reliance on GPS is a clear advantage to the United States on multiple levels," said the Alabama Republican, chairman of a House Armed Services subcommittee.
The State Department does not view Russian ground stations as posing a threat to U.S. security, according to the Times.
Bradford Parkinson, professor emeritus at Stanford, the chief architect of GPS, said that satellite orbits diverge from projected paths and their deviations are recalibrated by ground stations.
The more ground stations scattered around the globe the better a GPS system's accuracy.
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