Macron declares creation of French ‘space force’ … and prompts Trump comparisons
French President Emmanuel Macron has announced the creation of a space command within the country’s air force to boost defense capabilities. The initiative is similar to the US’ and NATO’s plans.
“To give substance to this doctrine and ensure the development and reinforcement of our space capabilities, a space command will be created next September in the air force,” Macron said while addressing military personnel, a day before the country’s national holiday – Bastille Day.
The new force will be renamed ‘Space and Air Force’ at some point, Macron revealed, adding however, that the investment to actually create it is yet to be determined. Last year, France’s Defense Minister Florence Parly said the country was seeking to achieve strategic space autonomy amid growing threats of space militarization.
The move immediately prompted comparison with the US space force, whose creation was pompously announced by President Donald Trump earlier this year. The sixth branch of the US military is expected to materialize by 2020. More NATO nations are expected to ‘come up’ with the same idea, as the alliance is reportedly preparing to recognize space as a standalone warfare domain later this year.
The existing 1967 Outer Space Treaty prohibits all its parties from deploying nuclear weapons and other WMDs into space, stationing them on the Moon and other celestial bodies, as well as creating military installations and holding maneuvers out there. Still, the agreement does not forbid deployment of conventional and non-WMD military toys into orbit.
This loophole has resulted in such ideas as launching kinetic weaponry from orbit, deploying lasers of all sorts and stationing conventional missiles there. None of these ideas have actually come to fruition, mainly due to cosmic costs, as well as technical limitations and questionable combat value.
While the US – and its allies, to a lesser extent – has been eyeing militarization of space for years already, their potential adversaries are to blame for it, as usual. A recent paper by the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) claimed that both Russia and China “view space as important to modern warfare and view counter-space capabilities as a means to reduce US and allied military effectiveness.” Such activities, according to the report, might ultimately damage the US military’s superiority.
Both China and Russia, indeed, have space branches in its military, yet neither of them have actually put any weaponry out there, focusing on defense instead – after all, it’s space where strategic (nuclear-tipped, potentially) ballistic missiles travel after they ascend.
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