The sixth Defense Conference organized by the Franco-British Council on 16 and 17 November 2016 was opened by Defense Ministers Jean-Yves le Drian and Michael Fallon.
The two ministers took the opportunity to welcome the ratification by the French and British parliaments of the intergovernmental agreement in the field of missiles, which came into force on 12 October.
In addition, the Delegate-General for Armaments, Laurent Collet-Billon, and the British undersecretary, Harriett Baldwin, spoke of the significant advances in armaments cooperation.
The intergovernmental agreement in the field of missiles paves the way for genuine interdependence in a highly strategic sector and industrial rationalization between the two countries, in particular the implementation of eight centers of excellence within MBDA.
These centers are divided into "specialized" centers and "federated" centers. The "specialized" centers of excellence include two centers in France around computers and test equipment, and two centers in the United Kingdom on control surfaces and data links. Thus, each country depends on the other for some of the skills in these areas.
For federated centers of excellence, each nation retains a capacity in its territory in the areas of algorithms, military charges, software and navigation, while distributing the workload in a balanced way between the two countries.
It was also recalled that France and the United Kingdom signed a declaration of intent in Amiens last March confirming their willingness to launch the joint concept study phase for the “arme future de croisière/anti-navire” (FC/ASW).
The aim of this program is to replace the SCALP / STORM SHADOW, already the object of a historical cooperation between the two countries, as well as the EXOCET and HARPOON anti-ship missiles. The two countries aim to sign a contract by the end of March 2017, under the responsibility of the DGA as the contracting agency.
Several concrete milestones, within the framework of industrial cooperation, have also been crossed over the last few months on the ASTER, METEOR and ANTI NAVIRE LEGER missile programs:
-- ASTER: a Memorandum of Understanding was signed on 11 December 2015 between France, Italy and the United Kingdom for the maintenance of capacities and the improvement of the performance of the FSAF and PAAMS systems;
-- ANTI NAVIRE LEGER: The program is proceeding according to schedule, with first firings planned for the first half of 2017;
-- METEOR: A new milestone was reached in August with the signing of an in-service support agreement.
These agreements are part of the ambitious, long-term cooperation strategy on armaments between France and the United Kingdom.