Source: Breaking Defense https://breakingdefense.com/2021/04/asterx-2021-french-space-forces-reach-for-higher-orbit/
The French military is moving apace in keeping with Paris’s determination to, at a minimum, keep its rank as the third international space power in an increasingly large and competitive club of nations.
By MURIELLE DELAPORTE on April 09, 2021
PARIS: France led its first multinational military space exercise last month, with Germany, Italy and the US, marking the country’s effort to re-vamp its forces and operations to meet 21st century threats.
The exercise signals the French government’s intent to reach for a higher ‘orbit’ as a sovereign nation in order to be able to face any future space conflict. Up until now, Paris was a participant in US-led space wargames.
The ASTERX exercise, took place in Toulouse March 8-12. It was described by Gen. Michel Friedling, head of the French Space Command, as a ‘’stress test’’ for the country’s space command processes and systems. A tactical exercise meant to train and prepare space combatants, ASTERX simulated an international crisis with no less than 18 different space events and scenarios ranging from an attack on a French satellite to space debris threatening civilian populations to an adversary jamming of allied SATCOM.
Assessing future space operational needs through this kind of exercise is one of the first tasks for the government of French President Emmanuel Macron in its full speed effort launched in 2019 to overhaul the country’s space policy. The Covid pandemic has had a slight impact on that effort, postponing the launch of the military observation satellite CSO-2 spy satellite by a few months. (The satellite was launched in December from France’s spaceport in French Guiana, joining its sister CSO-1 in a 300km polar orbit.) By and large, the French military is moving apace in keeping with Paris’ determination to, at a minimum, keep its rank as the third international space power in an increasingly large and competitive club of nations.
Indeed, 2021 already is set to be an especially busy year for French military space activities and organizational reforms. Three major thrusts are underway.