Information operations · Information Warfare

France wants to arm satellites with guns and lasers by 2030

Why is this article highlighted by an IO/IW blog?  Because it is all about the information. Presenting it, damaging it, denying it, and in this case, protecting it.  

Satellites and their links were usually assumed away, because they’re 22,000+ miles up in space. Now we are realizing satellites are vulnerable and France is moving to protect them. 

</end editorial>

Just after it announced that it was creating its own Space Command

Earlier this month, French President Emmanuel Macron announced the creation of a French space force that would be responsible for defending its satellites. It looks like they’re serious about that: France’s Minister of Defense announced a program that would develop nano satellites equipped with guns and lasers, according to Le Point (via Task & Purpose).

Minister Florence Parly announced that the country would be reallocating €700 million from the military budget for space defense, with more than €4.3 billion to be spent by 2025. That money would go towards upgrading France’s network of Syracuse military communications satellites, which are operated by the French Navy. The military wants the next generation of satellites to come with cameras to identify adversaries, with a followup generation equipped with submachine guns and lasers to attack and disable other satellites.

The Ministry of Defense also says that it wants to be able to launch swarms of nano satellites into orbit that could protect strategic objects, and have the ability to launch satellites quickly to replace ones that have been lost. Le Point says that the military wants these systems in place by 2030.

According to Task & Purpose, Parly says that the goal isn’t to go on the offensive to take out enemy satellites. “Active defense is not an offensive strategy; it’s self-defense,” noting that if the country can identify a country committing a hostile act, it’ll be able to respond. She also notes that the plan wouldn’t run afoul of the Outer Space Treaty, which explicitly prohibits things like nucleaer weapons or “other weapons of mass destruction.”


2 thoughts on “France wants to arm satellites with guns and lasers by 2030

  1. French plans are conditional upon no agreement being reached in Geneva on the non-militarization of space. Right now the only international treaty that exists and is implemented is the Outer Space Treaty adopted by the UN General Assembly in resolution 2222 (XXI) after being considered by the Legal Subcommittee in 1966. The Treaty added new provisions to the foundation provided by the Declaration of Legal Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, which had been adopted by the General Assembly in 1963 in resolution 1962 (XVIII). All it practically does is ban nuclear weapons in space, and nothing else.

    In 2014, the Russian and Chinese governments submitted a new version of a draft treaty on the prevention of the Placement of Weapons in Outer Space Treaty (PPWT). When they introduced the draft treaty, they said, “We consider a legally binding ban on placement of weapons in outer space as one of the most important instruments of strengthening global stability and equal and indivisible security for all.”

    US Ambassador Wood to the Disarmament Conference said the proposed treaty was “not verifiable” and does not deal with the fundamental issue, which is banning anti-satellite weapons – terrestrial based anti-satellite weapons, one of the major threats to the peaceful use of outer space.

    “When we ask the Russians and Chinese why do you not take on this issue in full, they kind of fudge (obfuscate) and do not really address the issue,” he said.

    More recently -this year- Assistant State Secretary of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance Yleem Poblete asked how the U.S. could “trust Russian arms control efforts and their seriousness about preventing an arms race in outer space when they have touted the development and completion of a broad array of counterspace capabilities.” She then added, “similar to Russia, it is difficult to determine the truthfulness of China’s concern about the prevention of an arms race in space and their support for space arms control.”

    The U.S. has accused both countries of pursuing anti-satellite weapons and laser weapons, among other offensive capabilities that could bring a future battlefield beyond the bounds of the planet.

    President Trump has commissioned the development of a U.S. Space Force (France has now done the same thing as the article says) and, in January, unveiled his 2019 Missile Defense Review, which included plans for space-based interceptors, among other ambitious measures designed to “detect and destroy any missile launched against the United States anywhere, anytime.” Russia and China immediately accused the U.S. of trying to launch a costly “arms race” in space, a challenge they sought to avoid. , ,

    If Russia and China are not serious about closing the enormous loopholes in their proposed PPWT, it is indeed possible that there will be a race for the militarization of space involving Russia, China, the US, the US, France and India. The INF saga shows that Russia is not at the moment committed to existing agreements. In 2021 New START will come up for renewal: this won’t happen if Russia’s new weapons such as in the hypersonic field are not included. This would bring us back to pre SALT 1 tiles with the associated costs and risks.

Comments are closed.