Space Operations Command participates in AsterX 2023

(To Greater Defense)

For the third consecutive year, the commandement de l'espace french (CDE) organized the space exercise AsterX, held from 23 February to 10 March in Toulouse.

Italy participated together with Germany and the United States, which represent the main reference countries for France in terms of cooperation relations in the space sector.

In addition to the personnel present in Toulouse, at national level the Defense has foreseen the direct involvement of all the operational units that make up the new space domain of operations; in particular, under the supervision of the operational command of interforce forces (COVI) and employee management space operations command (COS), have operated, at a tactical level, the joint management and control center SICRAL (CIGC SICRAL), the joint satellite remote sensing center (CITS) and the space situational awareness center (C-SSA).

This year also the Armed Forces, including the Carabinieri, followed the activity through their respective space coordination element, which are being set up and tested within their operational commands.

One of the most significant elements of the activity was the federation of AsterX to the broader context of multidomain operations, represented by the French joint exercise ORION, which involved more than 7.000 soldiers of all components (land, naval, air, space and cyber), engaged in extensive maneuvers in the various dimensions.

In a scenario simulated according to NATO protocols, France intervened to prevent the destabilization of an area, determined by the aggressive attitude of a country possessing huge military capabilities, including those in the space sector.

In this framework, the COS, perfectly integrated into the national multi-domain architecture and that of its reference space domain, has provided support with numerous space products and services, including: operational assessments, measurements and surveys of radar and optical sensors, data tracking of space objects, support for contrasting attempts to disturb satellite communication flows, support in managing satellite images, and much more.

The multiple events simulated during the exercise allowed COVI, COS and the Space Centers to further verify and optimize the command and control arrangements, as well as the operational procedures for conducting space operations aimed at countering a wide range of threats - including cybernetic ones - in the different orbital regimes.

The evolutionary dynamics of the events has clearly demonstrated how the effects of the spatial dimension are not only immediately reproduced on the other components, but can also have devastating consequences on the progress of the same operations joint. As proof of this, according to the narrative of the exercise, when the adversary lost the initiative, once its ability to produce effects in other domains was degraded, it intensified and radicalized the activity in the spatial context, seeking to reverse the tide of the dispute.

This further validates the choice of the Defense to base space domination on an essential joint connotation, both in terms of vision, as well as planning and conduct of operations, also in the awareness that, due to the high strategic value of everything that happens in the space, it will be increasingly complex to ensure the punctual, uninterrupted and effective delivery of space products and services to the other components, in mutual support of their respective operations.

Last but not least, the inter-force approach is also functional for a more effective management of threats that may arise in the space domain which - due to their intrinsic nature - require the availability of a complete picture of intelligence and overall evolution of the situation (so-called space domain awareness), that's just one approach joint – or even multi-domain – can guarantee.​