Defence Secretary announces UK-French missile cooperation
Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon has announced Franco-British Centres of Excellence for missile technology in Stevenage and Bolton.
Sir Michael made the announcement, which further deepens the UK-France defence relationship, at the Franco-British Council meeting today in Paris.
The revolutionary Cross-Channel Centres of Excellence Strategy will allow Franco-British defence company MBDA to develop cutting-edge technology in the UK and France while increasing efficiency.
The creation of specialised Centres of Excellence for missile technology will support 400 skilled jobs at MBDA’s UK sites in Stevenage and Bolton.
Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon said: "To keep Britain strong, it’s vital we develop mutual security through innovation and co-operation. By securing a rising defence budget, working with allies and investing in Centres of Excellence, we can keep Britain at the cutting-edge of technology.
"This Franco-British defence co-operation ensures high-skilled jobs through innovation and will help keep Britain safer and more secure."
Building on recent Franco-British commitments to work more closely, the strategy seeks to extend the boundaries of traditional interstate co-operation, to the advantage of both countries, including by increasing UK and French military capability and promoting competitiveness in exports.
Minister for Defence Procurement Harriett Baldwin added: "The UK and France are the biggest European investors in equipment, and defence projects such as these Centres of Excellence will ensure we work effectively and innovatively with industry to secure the very best deal for the tax payer.
"The UK is investing £178 billion so that our Armed Forces have the equipment they need to keep Britain safe."
During his visit the Defence Secretary also praised the UK and France’s deep and enduring partnership on operations against Daesh. The British and French militaries work closely together on a daily basis. RAF Voyager tankers often refuel French Rafales, as well as RAF jets. The RAF and French air force also team up to jointly strike more difficult targets, most recently in western Iraq, where RAF Tornados carrying Stormshadow missiles, and French aircraft successfully destroyed a large group of Saddam Hussein era bunkers used by Daesh for weapons manufacture. And only last week, near Mosul, an RAF Reaper crew was able to guide French Rafale jets onto a Daesh mortar team, striking the terrorists and eliminating the threat they were posing to Iraqi troops.
In a further boost to innovation the visit comes shortly after the launch of the next phase of a £117 million joint Franco-British Maritime Mine Counter Measures (MMCM) programme.
The MMCM programme will develop cutting edge maritime mine warfare capability, which will keep the UK and France at the forefront of autonomous systems technology. The development and deployment of unmanned mine clearance vehicle will help keep our personnel safe in challenging maritime environments.
The announcement on Centres of Excellence came at the annual meeting of the Franco-British Council, an organisation set up in the 1970s to foster closer UK-French ties. 2016’s conference underlined the continuing strength and progress of the Lancaster House agreement, which is a fundament part of Britain and France’s defence relationship.