France will invest an additional 700 million euros in military space by 2025, to strengthen its surveillance capabilities and equip itself with self-defense capabilities in space. This sum is in addition to the 3.6 billion euros already provided for military space programs in the 2019-2025 Military Program Law.
"Today, our allies and adversaries are militarizing space. And, even as reaction times are getting shorter and shorter, we must act. We must be ready.”
Thursday, July 25, Florence Parly, Minister of the Armed Forces, visited the Air Defense and Air Operations Command (CDAOA), located on Air Base 942 Lyon Mont-Verdun, to unveil the major orientations of France’s new military space strategy.
A real challenge, space has become a place of confrontation that is becoming increasingly militarized. Essential for the smooth conduct of military operations, our satellites and their backup have become strategic imperative.
That's why Florence Parly announced that France would invest an additional 700 million euros in military space by 2025, to strengthen its surveillance capabilities and equip itself with self-defense capabilities in space. A sum that will add to the 3.6 billion euros already provided for military space in France’s 2019-2025 Military Planning Law (LPM).
The space strategy unveiled by the Minister of Armies is divided into three areas: organizational, legal and capability.
Progressive stand-up of Space Command
As announced by President Emmanuel Macron on July 13, a new space command will be formed in Toulouse on September 1. It will be placed under the authority of the Air Force which will become the Air and Space Force. Its role will be to federate and coordinate all the assets devoted to military space.
"In the long term, it must be able to conduct all of our space operations, acting under the orders of the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces and, like all of our operations, in coordination with the Operational Planning Center (CPCO),” Florence Parly said.
With a team of 220 people, the new Space Command will gradually increase in scope over the duration of the military programming law, and will be fully operational by 2025.
To implement its space strategy, the minister wants a change in the legal texts governing the use of space so as to integrate the specificity of military space operations. "I decided that the Ministry of the Armed Forces would assume the role of space operator," she explains. "If we want to be able to carry out real military space operations, we need to develop an autonomy of action. "
Finally, Florence Parly announced that she wants to improve the space defense capabilities, through a new weapons program called "Mastering Space". It will integrate two components: surveillance and active defense.
Currently, France is one of the few nations to have its own space surveillance capabilities, thanks to the Graves and Satam radars as well as the CNRS and Ariane Group telescopes.
"Tomorrow, we will use more sophisticated means and services," the minister said. "The successor to Graves will be designed to be able to detect shoe-box-sized satellites at a distance of 1,500 kilometers." In order to better protect our satellites, actions will be taken, such as the integration of surveillance cameras on the Syracuse communications satellites for their self-protection, and the acquisition of patrol nano-satellite patrols from 2023.
Thanks to these future surveillance capabilities, an active defense can be put in place. The minister warns that this is only for self-defense and is not an offensive strategy: "If our satellites are threatened, we will consider dazzling those of our opponents. We reserve the time and the means for the response: it may involve the use of power lasers deployed from our satellites or our patrol nano-satellites," she said.
Click here for summary of the Military Space Stategy (4 PDF pages), on the Armed Forces Ministry website.