The European Galileo satellite navigation system moved a step nearer to reality with a January 2003 industry day designed to cover applications to join and invest in the Galileo joint undertaking that will develop and manage the capability. Designed to provide Europe with an independent but complimentary capability to America's Global Positioning System (GPS), the Galileo project has been beset by arguments over programme leadership and has provoked considerable hostility in the US where it is seen as both a threat to American dominance in the field and as unnecessary duplication. Assuming all goes to plan, 2003 will see interested parties competing for a satellite construction contract which should be awarded during the following year. As set out earlier in 2002, it is hoped to inaugurate the Galileo service (with a constellation of 30 satellites) on 1 January 2008.

According to usually reliable sources, Galileo will provide five types of user service including an encrypted public regulated service format that is designed for use by police forces and emergency services such as coast guards. As such, the facility is reported as being planned to provide 6.5 m positional accuracy in the horizontal plane and 100 ns accuracy in the time domain. Alongside its standard L-band (1 to 2 GHz) output, the Galileo system is also being billed as incorporating an ultra high frequency (UHF - 300 MHz to 3 GHz) relay channel for search and rescue activities. System revenue generation is expected to come from a € 1/€ 2 levy on the sale of chipsets for use in its receivers, a revenue stream that is predicted as generating € 50 M in 2010 and an annual figure of € 500 M by 2020.

As noted earlier, Europe sees Galileo as a compliment to GPS and expects it to provide a more robust, available and accurate service when operating in conjunction with the American system than is currently available. Although not intended specifically for military use, there can be little doubt that the availability of such an independent capability will be eagerly taken up by a number of armed forces across the continent.