On November 2, 2010, France and the United Kingdom (UK) signed the Lancaster House Treaties establishing a long-term bilateral nuclear, defence and security partnership. We mark their continuing importance to both our countries today, on their tenth anniversary. In the face of the changing defence and security challenges we both face, the United Kingdom and France share a strong and deep defence partnership, with a permanent and comprehensive dialogue on defence and security issues at all levels and a shared desire to increase ambition across the relationship.
Since 1995, France and the United Kingdom, have clearly stated that they can imagine no circumstances under which a threat to the vital interests of one would not constitute a threat to the vital interests of the other. The high level of mutual trust is illustrated by our daily and unprecedented defence cooperation. We are leaders in security and defence. Our two nations invest nearly 40% of the defence budget of European Allies, and more than 50% of the European spending on research and technology.
We are proud of our Armed Forces and on this important anniversary we pay tribute to all they accomplish together. We will continue to work alongside each other, through NATO, and in other fora such as the European Intervention Initiative, to address those common challenges and strengthen our collective defence and security.
Over the last ten years our armed forces have worked together to deliver the closer integration envisaged in 2010. We are delighted to announce today that the Combined Joint Expeditionary Force (CJEF) we committed then to develop has now reached full operating capability (1). This represents the successful conclusion of an extended 10-year programme of development and training. Our Armed Forces are now closer and more interoperable than they have ever been. As a result, we have at our disposal a flexible tool through which we can deploy up to 10,000 or more soldiers, sailors and airmen together on missions covering the full range of operations, from providing help after natural disasters to the most complex high-intensity combat operations.
This capability is a unique European contribution to wider Euro-Atlantic security. And we are not resting on our laurels.
We are taking forward a programme to consolidate and adapt what we have achieved to ensure it remains fitted to the changing environment, including in areas such as CIS, cyber, space, intelligence sharing and information management. We will also use the CJEF framework to improve further the interoperability of systems.
But CJEF is not and will not be the only way we operate with each other. Our people continue to work together almost continuously in different theatres in many ways. The ability to conduct combined military operations remains a fundamental goal. At the moment our armed forces are engaged together in the Levant against Daesh in operations Chammal and Shader as part of the international Coalition. UK personnel have been directly supporting Barkhane in the Sahel since 2018 with the deployment of three CH-47 Chinook heavy lift helicopters to Mali. French forces have supported the UK-led NATO enhanced Forward Presence air policing missions.
Our Air Forces work together daily to protect our airspace against incursions or terrorist attacks. Our Navies work closely, bilaterally and through NATO, on maritime security in the Northern Atlantic and the High-North. When possible, we have Indo-Pacific, and we are working to develop this further.
Ten years ago, we also set out our goal to have, by the early 2020s, the ability to deploy a UK-French integrated carrier strike group incorporating assets owned by both nations. Since then UK ships and personnel have regularly supported deployments by Fran Charles de Gaulle operating skills and experience. We look forward to HMS Queen Elizabeth working with Charles de Gaulle next year for the first time and to bringing this cooperation to the new level of mutual support and engagement envisaged in the coming years.
Alongside this continuing military and operational cooperation, we continue to work together to deliver new capabilities and equipment.
Ten years ago, we agreed to take forward a strategy for the British and French Complex Weapons sector working towards a single European prime contractor, underpinned by a series of joint Complex Weapons projects.
Cooperation on missiles remains at the core of our armament cooperation. In particular:
-- the joint Sea Venom anti-surface missile (2) project we anticipated then will soon be entering UK service;
-- working with MBDA, we have created joint Centres of Excellence on specific technologies in the UK and France reflecting the principle of mutual interdependence, helping us share information more effectively and deliver efficiencies; and
-- we have made good progress with the joint concept phase for the flagship Future Cruise/Anti-Ship Weapon (FC/ASW) project and will now be conducting our respective national project scrutiny and approval processes over the winter in advance of a decision on a follow-on joint assessment phase in 2021. (Emphasis added throughout—Ed.)
-- The depth of our cooperation allows us to share our missiles roadmaps and operational requirements at the earliest stages, with the objectives to examine whether synergies can be found and to analyse whether a future rationalisation of our respective missiles portfolio would be relevant and cost-effective for both parties.
The export mechanisms set in the One Complex Weapons intergovernmental agreement have proven effective and there are options for further works in this domain. Likewise, managing exchange of national sensitive information is an increasingly important element in our cooperation.
Hence, we renew today our commitment in addressing any issues that might arise due to their direct impact regarding the programme performance, efficiency and cost.
The continuing health of MBDA as the primary European Complex Weapons company testifies to our overall success in this area, and we are now developing a Joint Vision to shape deeper cooperation in the next decade.
Our joint Maritime Mine Counter Measures (MMCM) project has made significant progress in developing a world-leading autonomous mine hunting system. Sea trials conducted hunt sea mines. The production contract will be signed later in November and the first operational capabilities will be delivered in 2022.
We also continue to work together on Future Combat Air technology, and are considering the scope to work together in other areas in advance of the next UK-French Summit in 2021.
We also continue to make progress under the Teutates Treaty we signed in 2010 with the delivery of the joint nuclear facility at Valduc in France to model performance of our nuclear warheads and materials to secure their long-term viability, security and safety, supported by a joint Technology Demonstration Centre at Aldermaston.
Ten years on from Lancaster House, our Armed Forces are better able to operate together around the world when we ask them to do so than they have ever been. Now, we must take this work forward. We commit to building on the achievements of the first ten years of the Lancaster House accords in the decade to come including at the UK-France Summit in 2021.
Thus, France and the UK will continue to consult each other closely and at all levels on key international defence and security matters. Only the preservation of a deep and ambitious bilateral cooperation will allow our two Nations to provide an appropriate response to the current and future threats and challenges.
(1) Tailored to the task and mission, the CJEF is designed to be an early entry intervention force capable of non-enduring operations; the total force could number over 10,000 with a balanced range of capabilities. As a principle, the force uses NATO procedures. There are no permanently assigned or standing forces. The CJEF will draw on whichever national high readiness forces are declared as available, including lead elements at very short notice. The CJEF will be able to incorporate at the lower tactical level force elements or individuals from third party Troop Contributing Nations where appropriate and bilaterally agreed.
(2) Known at the time as Future Anti-Ship Guided Weapon (Heavy)/Anti—Navire Leger (FASGW(H)/ANL)
(EDITOR’S NOTE: Despite the claims of diverse achievements in the above statements, what the two countries have actually achieved fall well short of what the signatories of the Lancaster House agreements envisioned at the time.
However, even at the time that vision appeared overly optimistic, as we analyzed at the time in an article published on Nov. 3, 2010 -- exactly a decade ago today.
Click here for an Oct. 29 report by the French National Assembly’s defense committee on the results of the Lancaster House Treaty (in French), on the AN website.)