France to spend 3.6 billion euros to renew military satellites: defense minister

FILE PHOTO - French Defence minister Florence Parly and her Finnish counterpart Jussi Niinisto (not pictured) during a joint news conference in Helsinki, Finland, August 23, 2018. Lehtikuva/Vesa Moilanen/via REUTERS

PARIS (Reuters) - France will invest 3.6 billion euros ($4.2 billion) to renew and upgrade its military satellites to shield its network from potential spying by rivals, its defense minister said on Sunday.

“We will install surveillance cameras on our satellites so we will know who is approaching us,” Defence Minister Florence Parly said on French TV station CNews.

French last year detected attempts by Russia to intercept transmissions from a military satellite used by the armies of France and Italy for secure communications, Parly said on Friday.

The French investment plan comes weeks after U.S. President Donald Trump announced a plan to create a “Space Force”, a new branch of the U.S. military by 2020.

Parly also said the French government was evaluating the construction of one or two aircraft carriers to replace its existing one. ($1 = 0.8657 euros)

Reporting by Inti Landauro; Editing by Keith Weir