French President, Emmanuel Macron, has announced that the country's Joint Space Command will be replaced by a new space command within the air force. The announcement was made a day before the country's annual Bastille Day which comes with a military parade. With the new space command, France hopes to bolster the defences of French satellites.
Funding for the project has not been announced yet, however, the French military, from 2019-2025, will get €3.6 billion to renew and invest in French satellites.
Discussing the new initiative, Macron said:
“We will strengthen our knowledge of the space situation, we will better protect our satellites, including in an active way. 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.”
Once the new space command is launched, it will replace the already existing Joint Space Command (JSC), which was set up by France in 2010. Right now, JSC operates five Earth observation satellites, four signal intelligence satellites, four communication satellites, and runs two space situation awareness projects. The new space command will likely take over this hardware as well as the JSC’s day to day tasks.
While the idea of a space force gained a lot of press with America’s announcement, it’s actually nothing new. Russia has, sporadically, had its own independent space force between 1992 and 2011, but has since rolled it into the air force as France is doing now, and since 2016, China has had the independent PLA Strategic Support Force.