French President Macron announces creation of a space force command

A French-made Ariane 5 rocket lifts off from the European Space Centre in French Guiana in 2018 carrying four satellites into orbit

A French-made Ariane 5 rocket lifts off from the European Space Centre in French Guiana in 2018 carrying four satellites into orbit

French President Emmanuel Macron on Saturday announced the creation of a new national military space force command, as France becomes the latest of the world's top powers to boost defense capabilities in outer space.

French President Emmanuel Macron delivers a speech at the residence of French Defense Ministry on the eve of Bastille Day, on July 13, 2019, in Paris.

Addressing military personnel a day before the Bastille Day parade, Macron said the new military doctrine setting up a space command would strengthen protection of French satellites.

Macron said space has become a "true national security issue" due to increased spending and interest in the area by the United States, India, China and Russian Federation.

The declaration - made on the eve of France's Bastille Day national celebrations that feature a military parade down Paris's Champs-Elysees - mirrors an initiative in the United States championed by President Donald Trump.

French Defense Minister Florence Parly said a year ago she was committed to giving France strategic space autonomy in the face of growing threats from other powers amid a race in space militarisation.

"We will reinforce our knowledge of the situation in space, we will better protect our satellites, including in an active manner", he said.

Defence Minister Florence Parly would reveal details of the funding at a later date, he added.

France notably has a 2019-2025 military spending plan that allocates 3.6 billion euros ($4 billion) to defence in space.

US President Donald Trump's administration announced a plan previous year to create a new "Space Force" as the sixth branch of the military by 2020.

The European Space Agency launch site at Kourou in French Guiana gives France a leading role in space - one that President Macron is determined to preserve, correspondents say.