SA Secretary of Defence admits to existence of spy satellite


In January 2014 the Sunday Times released a story which probed into the
development and existence of a billion rand South African secret spy satellite
commissioned from Russian company NPO Mashinostroyenia. Initially Department
of Defence spokesman Siphiwe Dlamini refused to respond, claiming the issue was
classified, but the newspaper has followed up with a report that Secretary of
Defence Sam Gulube last week made a public admission of its existence and
reinstatement. Even so, both the Department of State Security and Department of
Defence have declined to comment on the satellite, maintaining that the issue is

The Department of Defence began development of the Kondor-E reconnaissance
satellite in 2006, naming the operation Project Flute. The initiative underwent a
number of postponements and delays due to errors in the procurement contract and
was later renamed Project Consolidated Flute. The Sunday Times reported that the
satellite was allegedly “a type frequently used for spying, capable of collecting
radar images – at night through cloud cover – of objects as small as cars.’

Democratic Alliance MP David Maynier has been campaigning for transparency on
the matter and said, “The public, who may have sunk up to R1.4 billion into the
defence intelligence’s bungled Russian Kondor-E spy satellite project, have a right to

According to defenceWeb, one of the flaws in the procurement contract was that it
stated Defence Intelligence would have no control over the satellite or be allowed to
operate it from South Africa.


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