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Defence Secretary secures progress on Brimstone sales as unmanned aircraft project moves forward

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon has discussed trade opportunities and joint operations with France during the bi-annual UK-France Defence Summit.

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).

The conclusions of the Summit, including the Annex on Defence and Security, can be seen here.