PARIS — The French Air Force is no more. On Sept. 11, it became the French Air and Space Force, completing a process initiated by President Emmanuel Macron in July 2019 when he announced the creation of a space command.
A new logo, revealed Friday, accompanies the new name. The logo features a thin, curved line that runs above the word “armée” and then behind the word “air.” It represents the surface of the world, above which soars the stylized sparrow-hawk, which has been the logo for the Air Force for a decade. The bird’s position has been very slightly modified to make it look more like a hunter. And the phrase “& espace” has been added.
The Air and Space Force says the reason for the discreet changes in the logo is to underline the continuity of the mission rather than a revolution in the mission.
“Today aviators must look higher, further, towards space, this new field of confrontation that is highly strategic and increasingly connected," Air and Space Force Chief of Staff Gen. Philippe Lavigne said to service members. "Your qualities enable you to master the skies. They will now lead you to conquering space.”
In a statement, the Air and Space Force said given “the vital implications for military operations,” France had defined space as being “a major stake” for its strategic independence, and so the Space Command — locally known as CDE, or Commandement de l’espace — was created on Sept. 3, 2019.
The command is led by Brig. Gen. Michel Friedling, who reports to Joint Chief of Staff Gen. François Lecointre where cooperation, capabilities and military operations are concerned, and to Lavigne when training and force preparation are involved.
Based in Toulouse, the Space Command should reach full operational capacity in 2025 with a staff of almost 500. There are currently 220 men and women working on developing capabilities to protect military satellites from being approached by satellites operated by foreign powers.
The command has already set up LISA, a laboratory dedicated to military innovation in space, and it is also preparing for AstérX, the first European military space exercise planned for November 2020.
Christina Mackenzie was the France correspondent for Defense News.