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France, UK to Fly €2 Billion UCAV Demonstrator by 2025

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Defence Secretary Secures Progress On Brimstone Sales As Unmanned Aircraft Project Moves Forward

(Source: UK Ministry of Defence; issued March 3, 2016)

France and the UK plan to launch the next phase of the Future Combat Air System in 2017, leading to a flying demonstrator in 2025 and a possible operational variant after 2030. (Dassault Aviation image)

The Defence Secretary and Prime Minister visited Amiens, France where a ground-breaking new £1.54bn project was announced to build a prototype of the next generation of unmanned aircraft. The Future Combat Air System (FCAS) project builds on the successful £120million joint feasibility study undertaken after the last UK France Summit in 2014.

At the summit, Mr. Fallon also secured agreement from France to look at purchasing Brimstone missiles for its next version of the Tiger Combat helicopter. And he committed the UK to providing one strategic airlift flight a month to support French forces in their operations against terrorists in Africa.

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said:

“Brimstone missile would be a significant option for the upgrade of their Tiger attack helicopters.

“The sale of this British made precision weapon would deliver investment in the UK economy and help protect both our shared interests around the world.”

The Future Combat Air System project will give the UK and France the most advanced vehicle of its kind in Europe, securing high-end engineering jobs and expertise in both countries with full scale development of prototypes starting in 2017. UK companies including BAE Systems, Finmeccanica Airborne and Space Systems Division, and Rolls Royce and Dassault Aviation, SNECMA/Safran and Thales in France are expected to benefit from the project.

The 49kg, rocket-propelled Brimstone ground attack missile is currently in use in Iraq and Syria and would offer a valuable upgrade to the French arsenal. The cutting edge weapon is widely regarded as a world leader due to its unrivalled precision and ability to inflict minimal collateral damage.

The summit comes ahead of Exercise Griffin Strike, which will take place around the UK in the Spring. Armed forces from both sides of the Channel will train together across land, sea and air platforms as part of the development of the Combined Joint Expeditionary Force (CJEF).


UK-France Summit 3rd March 2016

(Source: joint France / UK final communiqué; issued March 3, 2016)

Annex on Security and Defence: Defence Equipment


15. Cooperation in the field of defence capabilities and equipment is a key pillar of the Lancaster House Treaty. The 2014 Brize Norton Summit saw UK and France agree to a very substantial package of equipment and capabilities cooperation spanning across all domains, most significantly on the Future Combat Air System (FCAS), on Complex Weapons and on Maritime Mine Counter Measures (MMCM). Since then we have delivered a number of significant achievements against all the key strategic objectives and we are willing to extend and deepen our equipment and capabilities cooperation.

16. Future Combat Air System
At the Brize Norton Summit in 2014, France and the United Kingdom agreed to work together in exploring future combat air systems. Our plan was to enter initially into a two-year feasibility study, which could inform a follow-on demonstration programme. The joint feasibility study, worth a total of £120M, was launched in November 2014 and has focused on defining potential concepts and technologies.

We are now looking to transition to the next phase in 2017, which will prepare for the full-scale development of unmanned combat air system (UCAS) operational demonstrators by 2025. This demonstration programme, the most advanced of its kind in Europe, will be centered on a versatile UCAS platform that could serve as the basis for a future operational capability beyond 2030.

We intend to invest more than €2bn on the programme, with a technical review around 2020. In addition, we will strengthen our collaboration by working together to analyse the future combat air environment including how manned and unmanned systems might operate together.

17. Complex Weapons
We are fully supporting the long term strategy to jointly deliver effective military equipment in the most efficient manner while minimising national constraints and strengthening our common defence technological and industrial base. In support of this, Defence Ministers signed in September 2015 an Inter-Governmental Agreement enabling full implementation of Centres of Excellence into MBDA, a key step towards creating inter-dependence between us around key missile technologies.

We also intend to develop in 2016 a portfolio approach to strengthen our industrial links and jointly address the current and future operational requirements of our forces. In that respect, France is for instance considering Brimstone 2 for next standard of Tiger combat helicopter and the United Kingdom is considering the Aster Block 1NT for equipping its T45 Destroyers.

18. Since the last Summit, significant milestones have been reached on Collaborative weapons projects:
-- on the Future Anti-Surface Guided Weapon (Heavy) / Anti Navire Léger programme, a joint contract for the £500m (€600m) worth Development and Manufacturing phase was signed in March 2014;
-- on the SCALP / Storm Shadow Capability Enhancement Programme, a 2-year Design Phase was launched in July 2014; there has also been extensive information exchanges in 2015 and building of understanding on portfolio opportunities. Besides, other key cooperative missile activities will be extended further in 2016, such as the sustainment of our Aster missiles stockpiles and the shared-studied enhancement of our SCALP / Storm Shadow capability.

We signed today a SoI confirming our intent to enter into a joint concept phase for the Future Cruise/Anti-Ship Weapon (FC/ASW) programme to identify solutions for replacement of the Scalp/Storm Shadow missiles for both countries, Harpoon for the UK and Exocet for France.

Any Concept Phase would seek to inform by 2020 decisions concerning a potential follow-on Assessment Phase. We are working with the objective to sign arrangement for this Concept Phase for the end of 2016, to pave the way for possible contracts by March 2017.

19. Maritime Mine Counter Measures
The MMCM project aims at developing the next generation of Maritime mine countermeasures capabilities, based on unmanned underwater vehicles to better respond to the sea-mine threat in the long-term and operate more effectively. At the Brize Norton Summit in 2014 both nations committed to funding the System Design phase and a joint contract was awarded by OCCAR to industry in March 2015. Today we confirm our intent to commit in 2016 to develop and manufacture the MMCM demonstrators / prototypes worth around €150m.

20. A400M
A bilateral coordination on aircraft delivery timelines and acceptance strategy is carried on and an initial two-year bilateral support contract was signed end of 2014. We intend to expand it to other support activities and to encourage other nations to join.

21. Land domain.
Our 40 mm CTA cannon has been successfully developed after years of innovative collaborative R&T effort. It will be the main weapon for hundreds of our brand new armoured vehicles JAGUAR and AJAX, for which production orders were placed in December 2014 for France and March 2015 for the UK. On-going development of new ammunitions will broaden the fighting capabilities delivered by the system, and a bilateral agreement is under preparation to ensure common configuration management and support.

22. Opportunities for cooperation are being considered on a regular basis, namely to support CJEF capabilities development.

23. Research & Technology:
As key on-going programmes will continuously support major cooperation projects deliveries in the field of Complex Weapons, Air systems and UCAV, France and the UK are also deepening joint R&T innovation in the field of CBRN and emerging materials. While the joint PhD programme continues to expand, both nations have also agreed a new framework for cooperation with industry and academia through information about a Key Technology Plan. This aim at encouraging our scientists and engineers to network and fostering innovation amongst our industrial base.


Toward a Franco-British UCAS

(Source: Dassault Aviation; issued March 3, 2016)

SAINT-CLOUD, France --- In the framework of the France-UK summit which took place today in Amiens, Dassault Aviation and its partners are delighted at the two countries' shared intention to pursue cooperation in military aviation, and particularly to launch a new phase in 2017 with the “scale 1” development of a UCAS (Unmanned Combat Air System) operational demonstrator.

Eric Trappier, Chairman & CEO of Dassault Aviation, declared: "It is important to prepare for the future in the strategic field of combat UAVs".

With more than 8,000 military and civil aircraft delivered to more than 90 countries over the past 60 years, and having logged nearly 28 million flight hours to date, Dassault Aviation can offer recognized know-how and experience in the design, development, sale and support of all types of aircraft, from the Rafale fighter to the Falcon range of high-end business jets, as well as military unmanned air systems. In 2015, Dassault Aviation reported revenues of €4.2 billion. The company has almost 11,700 employees.