> our title:

British Minister Details French-UK UAV Plans

> original title:

A UK-France Vision of the Future of the European Aerospace Industry

(Source: UK Ministry of Defence; issued March 23, 2012)

excerpted from a speech delivered by Peter Luff, Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology, at Snecma Propulsion Solide (SAFRAN Group), Bordeaux, on Friday 16 March 2012.

UAS: Unmanned Air Systems

And SMEs are of course essential to making sure we continue to push forward the boundaries in a sector like aerospace, where the ability to exploit new and emerging technologies will be absolutely vital.

The potential here is, I believe, hugely exciting.

Unmanned air systems are now an absolutely crucial asset, both in today’s battle space and as a vital capability for the future.

We know this from our operations in Afghanistan, and again of course Libya was another example.

Last month’s UK-France summit committed us to taking forward our planned co-operation on UAS within a long term partnership framework that encompasses the different levels.

From tactical to ‘Medium altitude long endurance’ (MALE) in the mid term, and unmanned combat air systems in the longer term.

Joint funding and interdependence should help sustain industrial capability and deliver cost savings. Work is proceeding at pace and industry input will be important.

On MALE we now have a joint office in Bristol and our next step will be to advance the jointly funded risk reduction studies for the MALE. We will look to take further decisions after the outcomes of the study.

I’d like to say a word here about Watchkeeper.

We welcome French interest in acquiring this unmanned aerial capability, and we are looking at opportunities to organise trials in France next year.

I think both sides agree there is a lot of mutual benefit to be had when it comes to co-operating on this system.

Watch this space, as they say.

Unmanned combat air system

The next couple of years are going to be very busy.

And it will be a period of vital importance, I believe, when it comes to shaping the future of European combat air.

Looking ahead to when Rafale and Typhoon come out of service in the 2030+ timeframe, both the UK and France will have a requirement to examine the options for the next generation of combat air systems.

Strong correlation has been found between UK and French needs and aspirations in the combat air sector.

A common vision on the ‘Combat Air’ sector has been shared, and is being developed, between governments.

This should ensure that we have the necessary skills and technological capbilities to take development forward of this complex military air system.

Next year we intend the UK and France to undertake a joint ‘Future combat air system demonstration programme’.

Pending national approvals and decisions points on both sides, we’ll be starting work as soon as possible on a specification for this demonstration.

There will be a jointly funded contract under the industrial leadership of our national fighter aircraft industries.

This will need both an investment in the right technologies and of course the skills required.

Again, those of you here today from industry have an important stake in this. Opportunities for business will exist across the supply chain and we will be looking to you for your support. (end of excerpt)

Click here for the full text of the speech.