Florence Parly unveils the French space defence strategy
"Today, our allies and adversaries are militarizing outer space. And as the time for resilience is getting shorter and shorter, we must act. We must be ready."
On Thursday 25 July, Florence Parly, Minister of the Armed Forces, visited the Air Defence and Air Operations Command (CDAOA), located at Lyon Mont-Verdun Air Base 942, to present the major French military orientations in the space sector.
Space has become an increasingly militarised area of confrontation. Essential to the smooth running of military operations, our satellites and their safeguarding are a strategic imperative.
This is why Florence Parly has announced that France is going to invest an additional 700 million euros in military space between now and 2025, to strengthen its surveillance resources and acquire self-defence capabilities in space. This is in addition to the 3.6 billion euros already earmarked for defence space in the French Military Programming Law (LPM) 2019-2025.
The space strategy unveiled by the Minister of the Armed Forces is based on three main lines: organisational, legal and capability.
Gradual increase in space command power
Thus, as Emmanuel Macron announced on July 13, a major space command will be created on September 1 in Toulouse. It will be placed under the authority of the Air Force, which will become the Air and Space Forces. Its role will be to federate and coordinate all the resources devoted to the defence space sector. "In the long term, it will be responsible for conducting all our space operations, under the orders of the Chief of Defence Staff and in liaison with the CPCO, as is the case for all our operations", Florence Parly said. With a team of 220 people, this space command will gradually increase in strength over the duration of the military programming law, between now and 2025.
To implement her space strategy, the Minister wants to see the texts governing the use of space evolving to take into account the specific nature of military space operations. "I decided that the Ministry of the Armed Forces would assume the function of space operator" she explains. "If we want to be able to carry out real military space operations, we need to develop autonomy of action. »
Finally, Florence Parly announced that she wanted to improve space defence capabilities through a new weapons programme called "Maîtrise de l’Espace" (Space Control). This will integrate two components: surveillance and active defence. At present, France is one of the few nations to have its own space surveillance capabilities, thanks to the Graves and Satam radars and the telescopes of the CNRS and Ariane Group. "Tomorrow, we will be calling on even more sophisticated means and services", the Minister stressed. "The successor to Graves will have to be designed to detect satellites the size of a shoe box at a distance of 1,500 kilometres. "In order to better protect our satellites, actions will be carried out, such as the integration of surveillance cameras into Syracuse communication satellites for their self-protection or the acquisition of patrol nano-satellites starting in 2023.
Thanks to these future surveillance capabilities, active defence will be possible. The Minister warns that this is only self-defence and not an offensive strategy: "If our satellites are threatened, we will consider dazzling those of our adversaries. We reserve the time and means to respond, which may involve the use of power lasers deployed from our satellites or from our patrol nano-satellites," she said.