PARIS: France will on Thursday outline a new strategy for defence in space after President Emmanuel Macron announced the creation of a French space force command to deal with emerging threats to its interests in orbit.
Defence Minister Florence Parly is due to give more details on the strategy in a keynote speech at the Lyon Mont-Verdun military base starting from 1000 GMT.
“What we are talking about is to discourage and protect ourselves from aggressions from potential adversaries,” Parly told the French parliament earlier this month.
The minister emphasised that France was not planning to point weapons at earth in the new strategy but rather to protect objects like satellites in space.
The announcement comes as China, Russia and the United States all jostle for an increased strategic presence in space.
Macron’s initial declaration — made on the eve of France’s July 14 Bastille Day military parade — mirrored an initiative in the US championed by President Donald Trump.
“To assure the development and the reinforcement of our capacities in space, a high command for space will be created in September,” Macron said at the time.
He called the renewed military focus on space a “true national security issue”.
“We will reinforce our knowledge of the situation in space, we will better protect our satellites, including in an active manner,” he said.
Observers see military activities — including spy satellites, location tracing and jamming, communications and cyber attacks — increasingly being set up in orbit around Earth.
France has a 2019-2025 military spending plan that allocates 3.6 billion euros ($4 billion) to defence in space.
That includes the renewal of the France’s CSO observation and Syracuse communication satellites, the launch of three CERES electromagnetic-monitoring satellites, and the modernisation of a spatial radar surveillance system called GRAVES.
The Pentagon has drafted plans for a new Space Force on orders from Trump who has declared space a “war-fighting domain”. But that project still requires the approval of the US Congress.