By Jim Wolf
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Defense Department and intelligence community vowed on Friday to streamline business with the U.S. suppliers of high-tech eyes, ears and other space hardware deemed critical for national security.
"We seek to foster a U.S. space industrial base that is robust, competitive, flexible, healthy, and delivers reliable space capabilities on time and on budget," an unclassified summary of a new "National Security Space Strategy" said.
The department and the intelligence community plan to better manage investments to make sure the industrial base can sustain "those critical technologies and skills that produce the systems we require," said the summary released at the Pentagon.
Among the biggest beneficiaries could be the Pentagon's top suppliers, led by Lockheed Martin Corp, Boeing Co and Northrop Grumman Corp.
Other likely winners include Orbital Sciences Corp, Ball Corp's Aeropsace & Technologies unit, Alliant Techsystems Inc and GenCorp's Aerojet unit, said Philip Finnegan, director of corporate analysis at Teal Group, a Fairfax, Virginia, consultancy.
The document was signed jointly by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. It builds on other major national security planning carried out under President Barack Obama.
"The National Security Space Strategy represents a significant departure from past practice," Gates said in a statement. "It is a pragmatic approach to maintain the advantages we derive from space while confronting the new challenges we face."
Among the challenges are efforts by potential adversaries to exploit perceived U.S. space vulnerabilities, the document said.
China heightened U.S. concerns about the safety of U.S. orbiting eyes and ears in January 2007, when it used a relatively simple ground-based anti-satellite weapon to shoot apart one of its own aging weather satellites.
Increased congestion in space was highlighted by a 2009 collision between a Russian government Cosmos series satellite and a commercial satellite owned by Iridium, a U.S. company.
(Reporting by Jim Wolf; editing by Gerald E. McCormick and Andre Grenon)