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Franco-British cooperation

Published on February 18, 2011
Reply by Alain Juppé, Minister for Defence and Veterans, to a written question in the National Assembly

Paris, February 15, 2011


France and the United Kingdom are natural partners when it comes to security and defence. As permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, allies in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), members of the European Union (EU) and nuclear weapons States, our countries have a large number of shared interests and responsibilities. Since the beginning of 2010, France and the UK have gradually moved closer in order to define the practicalities of an enhanced defence cooperation allowing them to optimize their capabilities, make better returns on their investments and identify ways of making economies of scale. In this context, at the 31st Franco-British Summit, held in London on 2 November 2010, President Sarkozy and the British Prime Minister jointly decided to provide a structure for the military cooperation and strategic dialogue between the two sides, but also develop cooperation on nuclear deterrence, in addition to various conventional partnerships. This cooperation falls under the dual umbrella of the European Union and the Atlantic Alliance, as explicitly envisaged in the Treaty.

With regard to military cooperation and strategic dialogue, the UK and France concluded a Treaty to develop cooperation between their armed forces, the sharing and pooling of materials and equipment, the building of joint facilities, mutual access to defence markets, and industrial and technological cooperation. A letter of intent was also signed on the creation of a new framework for exchanges between our armed forces on operational matters, with a view to identifying ways of bringing our armed forces closer in the areas of doctrine, procurement needs and interoperability.


On nuclear deterrence, the only two States in the European Union with nuclear weapons will move towards unprecedented cooperation on technologies associated with stewardship of their nuclear stockpiles.

This cooperation – backed up by an agreement for a 50-year period and a technical arrangement, both accompanied by a roadmap – will take shape in the building of a joint facility in Valduc (France), which will model performance of our nuclear warheads and materials. A joint Technology Development Centre in Aldermaston (UK) will support this project. The partnership will enable both parties to increase their efficiency and productivity, speed up scientific progress and make economies of scale by sharing – where useful and efficient – facilities and skills.


Finally, on the development of conventional partnerships, the cooperation envisaged concerns operational activities, equipment and capabilities, UAVs, research and technology, the defence industry and cyberdefence. In the field of operational activities, a Combined Joint Expeditionary Force capable of conducting high-intensity missions will be created. This non-permanent force will be capable of being deployed at notice for bilateral, NATO, European Union, United Nations or other operations. Its use will not be restrictive for the two States, which will always retain control of their own forces. Advantage will be taken of combined air and land exercises conducted in 2011 to ensure the growing strength of this force. Moreover, cooperation leading to the incorporation of British personnel in the French carrier battle group will be developed. In parallel, it has been decided that the UK and France will aim to have, by the early 2020s, the ability to deploy a UK-French integrated carrier strike group incorporating assets owned by both countries.


With regard to equipment and capabilities, a single contract will be signed by both countries at the end of 2011 for the support of future fleets of A400M transport planes. A Joint User Group will also be created to cooperate on developing A400M training to inform operating techniques and procedures, and synthetic and live training. In the maritime field, the UK and France also plan to develop together, on the one hand, equipment and technologies for the next generation of submarines and, on the other, resources in the field of mine warfare.

Finally, the potential for cooperation on future military satellite communications will be assessed, the aim being for us to reduce overall costs whilst preserving national sovereignty. Regarding UAVs, cooperation will relate to an industrial partnership for the next generation of Medium Altitude Long Endurance Unmanned Air Surveillance Systems, which are expected to go into service in 2020. The aim is to share the development, support and training costs and ensure that our forces can work together. For the successors to the Rafale/Typhoon-type planes, looking ahead to 2030, a joint industrial and technological roadmap will be presented in June 2012. The decision to launch a demonstration programme will follow.


In the area of research and technology, France and the UK have identified several priority areas for cooperation over the next two years. Our joint work will focus on a set of 10 priority areas that will include time critical research support to satellite communications, unmanned systems, naval systems and complex weapons. It will also include new areas of critical industrial importance such as sensors and electronic warfare technologies, as well as novel areas such as simulation.

On defence industry cooperation, we plan to create a Franco-British Complex Weapons sector over the coming decade, based on the subsidiaries MBDA France and MBDA United Kingdom, ultimately brought together into a single entity: One MBDA. This convergence is in fact the sole guarantee of survival in an extremely competitive sector. From this perspective, we plan to launch jointly, as early as 2011, a series of several weapons projects, including the development and manufacture of a new, light anti-ship missile, the definition of the programme to improve the Scalp/Storm Shadow missiles, and the preparation of a technology roadmap for air defence.


Finally, on cyberdefence, France and the UK will develop enhanced cooperation in the face of the growing threats to the security of their information systems. A governing framework for cooperation in this area has been agreed, to allow the resilience of their national and shared systems to be strengthened.

This historic convergence should enable both countries to retain their military capabilities at the best price, while retaining their national independence over the decision to deploy their forces. It will benefit all our allies and help strengthen the security of the Atlantic Alliance and the European Union. This exemplary Treaty has also been welcomed by our European partners./.

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