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CNES Supports French Armed Forces In Implementing Military Space Strategy

Artist’s impression of France’s CSO-1 reconnaissance satellite. Image courtesy of Airbus Defene and Space.

From 11 to 13 September 2019, the Centre national d’etudes spatiales (CNES) was at the 17th edition of the Defence Summer School, hosted by the French Air Force. In the presence of Florence Parly, the Minister for Armed Forces, more than 500 high-ranking French and foreign political and military officials, alongside key stakeholders from government and industry, gathered in Bourges at Avord air base to share views on this year’s theme of new warfighting trends.

The Defence Summer School is designed to foster dialogue and sustain a strong defence community, as well as to provide a forum for debate on future solutions and partnerships for the nation’s defence. It is organized by the Ministry for Armed Forces with support from the chairs of the defence committees at the National Assembly and Senate.

This 17th edition of the Defence Summer School comes at a defining moment for military space, following the presentation on 25 July by the Minister for Armed Forces of the military space strategy and the creation on 3 September of French Space Command, a joint forces unit within the Air Force, which ultimately will become the Air & Space Force.

Since its inception in 1961, CNES has worked closely with the Ministry for Armed Forces, one of its two overseeing ministries. It has contributed in varying degrees to the development of France’s current military and dual-use space capabilities, and its resources and expertise are instrumental in supporting and sustaining them. The agency is today working in four fields of defence: the conduct of military and dual-use space programmes, development of future technologies, space surveillance and tracking (SST) and space operations.

France’s military space strategy encompasses a series of organizational, legal and capacity measures designed to promptly strengthen the nation’s military space capabilities. From an operational standpoint, the armed forces will be taking on increased responsibilities after a capacity-building phase for which CNES will be providing its support, since the military space strategy calls on the agency to continue contributing to the four fields of defence in which it is involved today.

On the sidelines of the Defence Summer School, CNES President Jean-Yves Le Gall commented: “This year’s event has again highlighted the crucial role of space in defence strategy and military operations. Given its expertise in this sector, CNES is contributing with its unique skills and resources to building up the nation’s military space capability.”

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