Ministers highlight advances in armaments cooperation [fr]
Paris, 17 November 2016
The sixth Defence Conference, organized by the Franco-British Council on 16 and 17 November 2016, was opened by defence ministers Jean-Yves Le Drian and Michael Fallon.
The two ministers took advantage of the opportunity to welcome the ratification by the French and British parliaments of the intergovernmental agreement in the field of missiles, which came into force on 12 October 2016.
In addition, Laurent Collet-Billon, Délégué general pour l’armement, and Harriett Baldwin, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State [and Minister for Defence Procurement], discussed the significant advances in armaments cooperation.
The intergovernmental agreement in the field of missiles paves the way for genuine interdependence in a highly strategic sector and for industrial rationalization between the two countries, governing in particular the implementation of eight centres of excellence within MBDA. These centres will be split into “specialized” and “federated” centres. The “specialized” centres include two in France dealing with weapons controllers and test equipment, and two in the United Kingdom for actuators and data links. In this way, each country depends on the other for some of the skills in these areas. For the “federated” centres of excellence, each nation retains a capability on its territory as regards algorithms, warheads, software and navigation, whilst sharing out the workload in a balanced way between the two countries.
Attention was also drawn to the fact that France and the United Kingdom signed a declaration of intent in Amiens in March 2016 confirming their desire to launch the joint concept phase for the Future Cruise/Anti-Ship Weapon (FC/ASW) programme. The purpose of the programme is to replace the Storm Shadow/SCALP, already the subject of historic cooperation between the two countries, and the Exocet and Harpoon anti-ship missiles. The two countries are aiming for a contract to be signed by the end of March 2017, under the DGA’s responsibility as contracting agency.
Within the context of industrial cooperation, several concrete steps have also been taken in the past few months regarding the Aster, Meteor and Light Anti-Ship missile programmes:
• Aster: a memorandum of understanding was signed on 11 December 2015 between France, Italy and the United Kingdom for maintaining capabilities and improving the performance of the FSAF and PAAMS systems;
• Light Anti-Ship: the programme is proceeding to plan, with the first firings due in the first half of 2017;
• Meteor: a new stage was passed in August 2016 with the signing of an in-service support agreement.
Together these form part of the long-term strategy of ambitious armaments cooperation between France and the United Kingdom./.