Back in 2004, the U.S. Air Force suggested that they might be willing to mess with commercial satellites, if they were aiding an American foe. The idea drew howls from outside observers. And, for a while, it seemed destined for an extremely quiet corner of flyboy doctrine.But now, the Israelis are picking up where their American counterparts left off, Defense News' Barbara Opall-Rome reports. Fed up with Hezbollah's Al-Manar TV broadcasts -- which stayed on the air, despite repeated aerial and electronic attacks -- the Sabras are now talking publicly about "disrupt[ing] transmissions of enemy programming carried by commercial satellites."
No doubt, we understand the power of the media, public opinion and mass psychology, said [Maj. Gen. Ido] Nehushtan, who is responsible for IDF modernization planning. Al-Manar is a liability, and were going to have to improve our ability to counter this threat......the only way to ensure persistent, reliable, wide-area broadcast denial is through an anti-communication satellite system. Israel must develop the means to surgically target signals serving Hizbollah without damaging the spacecraft or disrupting operations of other customers serviced by the broadcast frequencies, he said...[But] according to [an Israeli] executive, jamming a communications satellite is like interfering with civil aviation. You can do it, but its against international law and youll be subject to all kinds of lawsuits.It is technologically impossible, he said, to selectively jam only those satellite signals that carry enemy broadcasts.Everything goes out as a single beam, and it is impossible to jam only those channels viewed as a threat, the executive said. If you make the decision to interfere with one [satellite signal], then you must be prepared to face the consequences of the collateral damage incurred to the many other legitimate users of the signal.Robert Ames, chief executive of the Satellite Users Interference Reduction Group... said it is relatively easy to jam a specific satellite transponder.Transponders are separated by frequency, he said. All you have to do is know the frequency which it operates on and then put up a signal that is stronger than the programming carrier of the satellite...Satellite interference capabilities have been around since the mid-1970s, he added. But if the Israelis are talking about technological challenges, I assume they are aiming for a capability that goes way beyond what our companies have experienced to date.