Lasers in space: France joins anti-satellite arms race

France has announced plans to develop laser weapons capable of destroying satellites in space. But the country is playing catch-up with the likes of the US, China and Russia, who experts say already have the ability to destroy satellites.

French Defence Minister Florence Parly unveiled the plans as she launched a new space defense strategy at a French air base near Lyon on Thursday.

"We will develop powerful lasers," Parly said. "It's an area in which France has fallen behind. But we will catch up."

Other nations, including the US and Russia, have already demonstrated the ability to destroy satellites using Earth-launched missiles while it has long been speculated they have been developing other technologies for the same purpose.

It comes after President Emmanuel Macron said earlier this month that France would create a new military “space force”, following in the steps of his US counterpart Donald Trump, who made a similar pledge in March.

However, Parly said France’s military strategy in space was purely defensive.

“It’s not about starting ‘Star Wars’,” she said. “It’s about responding if our resources were to come under threat.”