French president announces country’s Air Force will become Air and Space Force

July 13 (UPI) — French President Emmanuel Macron announced Saturday the country’s Air Force will soon include a space military command.

Macron, in an address to military personnel Saturday, one day before the country’s Bastille Day celebrations, told the assembled crowd at the Defense Ministry in Paris that the space command would be founded in September and would replace the joint space command set up in 2010.

“We will strengthen our knowledge of the space situation, we will better protect our satellites, including in an active way,” Macron said in his address, which was live-streamed on Periscope.

“And to give substance to this doctrine, to ensure the development and reinforcement of our space capabilities, a large space command will be created next September within the Air Force, which will eventually become the Air and Space Force,” he said.

French Defense Minister Florence Parly said last year she was working to ensure France has strategic autonomy in space amid a race for space militarization by other world powers.

The announcement comes just over a year after U.S. President Donald Trump announced a U.S. Space Force would become the sixth branch of the country’s military.

“We are going to have the Air Force and we are going to have the Space Force — separate but equal,” Trump said at the time.

The administration said it is aiming to establish the Space Force by 2020.

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