France to create space command within air force - Macron

A French-made Ariane 5 rocket lifts off from the European Space Centre in French Guiana in 2018 carrying four satellites into orbit

A French-made Ariane 5 rocket lifts off from the European Space Centre in French Guiana in 2018 carrying four satellites into orbit

French President Emmanuel Macron on Saturday announced he was creating a national military space force command that would eventually be part of his country's air force.

The declaration was made on the eve of France's Bastille Day national celebrations.

"And to give substance to this doctrine, to ensure the development and reinforcement of our space capabilities, a large space command will be created next September within the Air Force, which will eventually become the Air and Space Force".

Macron claimed that the military focus on space was a "true national security issue" and said it would go to "better protecting our satellites".

French Defence Minister Florence Parly said a year ago she was committed to giving France strategic space autonomy in the face of growing threats from other powers amid a race in space militarisation.

Defence Minister Florence Parly would reveal details of the funding at a later date, he added.

Military activities - including spy satellites, location tracing and jamming, communications and cyber-attacks - could increasingly be set up in orbit around Earth.

France has allocated €3.6 billion (Rs 27,859 crore) for defence in space between 2019 and 2025.

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.

Macron's announcement mirrors an initiative in the United States championed by President Donald Trump for a new "Space Force" to become the sixth branch of the military by 2020. But that project still requires the approval of the US Congress. He said the investment involved had yet to determined.

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