France will develop satellites armed with laser weapons, and will use the weapons against enemy satellites that threaten the country’s space forces. The announcement is just part of a gradual shift in acceptance of space-based weaponry as countries reliant on space for military operations in the air, on land, and at sea—as well as for economic purposes, bow to reality and accept space as a future battleground.
In remarks earlier today, French Defense Minister Florence Parly said, “If our satellites are threatened, we intend to blind those of our adversaries. We reserve the right and the means to be able to respond: that could imply the use of powerful lasers deployed from our satellites or from patrolling nano-satellites.”
“We will develop power lasers, a field in which France has fallen behind,” Parly added.
Last year France accused Russia of space espionage, stating that Moscow’s Luch satellite came too close to a Franco-Italian Athena-Fidus military communications satellite. The satellite, which has a transfer rate of 3 gigabits per second, passes video, imagery, and secure communications among French and Italian forces. “It got close. A bit too close,” Parly told an audience in 2018. “So close that one really could believe that it was trying to capture our communications.”
France also plans to develop nano-satellite patrollers—small satellites that act as bodyguards for larger French space assets by 2023. Per Parly’s remarks, nano-sats could be armed with lasers. According to DW, France is also adding cameras to new Syracuse military communications satellites.
Additionally France plans to set up its own space force, the “Air and Space Army,” as part of the French Air Force. The new organization will be based in Toulouse, but it’s not clear if the Air and Space Army will remain part of the French Air Force or become its own service branch.
The weaponisation of space has properly begun