France fleshes out its military space strategy
The French Minister of the Armies detailed the space defense national strategy and the associated means.
The French Minister of the Armies Florence Parly went on July 25 to the air base 942 of Lyon Mont-Verdun. On this occasion, she outlined the announcements made the day before at the Hôtel of Brienne by the French President: France wants to increase its knowledge of the extra-atmospherical environment and be able to defend its space devices by 2030. To do so, it will especially establish a Space High Command.
To know space context.
The first objective is to double the number of objects tracked in orbit by 2022 thanks to already existing systems (Graves of Onera, GeoTracker of ArianeGroup and Tarot of CNES), or the soon acquisition of a radar imagery satellite. Moreover, a very high range radar will be tested to evaluate the threat and guarantee the non-proliferation.
Ground observation from space also needs to be reinforced, benefitting when possible of the abundant offer of commercial services of the New Space, in support of institutional optic observation satellites.
In parallel, the French Ministry of the Armies wishes to regulate the commercialisation of images, token from and of space, as well as the broadcast of electromagnetic signals.
The use of European cooperation is also considered, especially with Germany.
To get auto-defense capability.
The second pillar of this space defense strategy is to guarantee the safety of all the orbiting infrastructures that are interesting for national security and economy — such as the radionavigation system Galileo.
“We must enhance our space defense capabilities. Space is a new front to defend. We must be ready”, stated the Minister.
To do so, several systems can be imagined, and “nanosat patrollers” could be deployed around big sensitive equipments… Besides, the development of very reactive little launchers is currently under study — to operate fast launch into orbit in case of emergency.
In addition to the €3.6 billion available for the replacement of the existing means as part of the Act of Military Programing (Loi de programmation militaire) 2019-2025, €700 million will be added to deploy these complementary capacities.
To become a satellite operator.
The conductor of this strategy will be a Space High Command, established in Toulouse next September 1st, under the French Air Force’s (Armée de l’Air) aegis which will become the Air and Space Force (Armée de l’Air et de l’Espace). It will immediately regroup 220 people currently working for several military entities taking care of space matters, then it will reach its nominal size by 2025.
One of the missions will be to acquire skills on operating French military satellites, until now under CNES’s supervision.
“We are one and the same team: the French space team. France as the third space power, we believe in it. We were part of the pioneers. And we will be at the forefront”, concluded Florence Parly.