Despite strong opposition from Washington, the European Union has voted to move ahead on its Galileo satellite-based navigation system, which will compete with Uncle Sam's Global Positioning System. No date has been set for launching the Galileo system.
Unlike GPS, which is operated by the U.S. military but is available for commercial use, Galileo will be designed from the start as a commercial service. It also will give users more precise information than GPS provides. That has Washington worried that terrorists could use Galileo to guide a weapon, not just to a targeted building but to a specific window in that building.
The European Union argues that an alternative to GPS is needed because the Pentagon from time to time shuts down access to the American satellite network, sometimes without any advance notice to users. The EU is also uncomfortable about giving the U.S. government and American industry a monopoly in the precision navigation field.