French President Emmanuel Macron said on Saturday the French air force will expand to include a space command to improve the country’s defense capabilities.
The move echoes U.S. President Donald Trump who signed a policy directive in February requiring the secretary of defense to create a separate Space Force within the United States military.
“The Space Force will organize, equip, and train the next generation of warriors to deter aggression and defend the nation, our allies, and American interests against hostile actions in the form of space and taking place in space,” Mr Trump said.
The president noted that America’s enemies were already creating technology to threaten the country from space, which he was determined to meet and surpass, an enhancement to U.S. military capabilites that was applauded by Vice President Mike Pence:
The brave men and women here at Vandenberg AFB have made it a priority to advance our country’s leadership on the frontier of space in their work towards President @realDonaldTrump‘s Space Force! Thank you for all for your hard work, dedication, and service to our nation! pic.twitter.com/onVwZRjtc1
— Vice President Mike Pence (@VP) July 11, 2019
Macron’s declaration meanwhile came on the eve of France’s Bastille Day national celebrations that feature a military parade down Paris’s Champs-Elysees.
“To assure the development and the reinforcement of our capacities in space, a high command for space will be created in September,” Macron told military brass gathered for a traditional pre-Bastille Day reception.
He called the renewed military focus on space a “true national security issue.”
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.
In March, United Nations-backed talks in Geneva to prevent an arms race in outer space ended without agreement.
AFP contributed to this report