UK and France agree to further strengthen defence co-operation
The UK and France have signed agreements to further strengthen defence co-operation after a summit at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire, UK.
Signed by the UK Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Francois Hollande, the communiqué builds on the Lancaster House treaty signed in 2010, and aims to advance the security and prosperity of the two countries through joint investment in the procurement of defence equipment, and the joint training of armed forces.
The two countries have signed a statement of intent that would launch a two-year, £120m joint feasibility phase for a future combat air system, and technical arrangements for an exchange programme to provide RAF pilots and engineers with experience of operating the A400M ahead of its delivery, and for French pilots to gain flying experience on the RAF's A330 Voyager aircraft.
Additional agreements will see development of a future helicopter-launched, anti-surface guided weapon for the two navies, underwater vehicles, investment in the Atomic Weapons Establishment, to facilitate collaboration on and safe testing of UK and French stockpiles, as well as further co-operation between both armies in the areas of equipment capability and interoperability.
Meanwhile, UK Defence Secretary Philip Hammond and his French counterpart, Jean-Yves Le Drian, have agreed to continue the development of a combined joint expeditionary force capable of performing coordinated expeditionary military operations.
UK Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said the UK and France are natural partners for defence co-operation, and have made substantial progress since the Lancaster House treaty signing.
''The agreements we have reached at this summit will improve the interoperability of our forces, enhance our joint equipment procurement and build on our capacity to support security and stability in places such as Libya, Mali and the Central African Republic,'' Hammond said.
In addition, the two sides agreed to build on international peacekeeping missions carried out by their respective forces in Libya, Mali and the Central African Republic, and tackle security issues, including terrorism, and drug and arms trafficking in north and west Africa, to achieve long term stability in the regions.
Image: UK Prime Minister David Cameroon and French President Francois Hollande arrive at RAF Brize Norton, UK. Photo: copyright of Crown.