Minister for Defence Procurement Harriett Baldwin MP further strengthened the UK’s partnership with France yesterday at the High Level Working Group in Paris, signing key agreements with her French counterpart, Laurent Collet-Billon, Délégué Général pour l’Armement. These include the next phase of the UK-France Unmanned Combat Air System (UCAS) Demonstrator Programme, further hydrodynamics testing cooperation, and a support contract for Ajax, Warrior and French Jaguar weaponry.
Both Harriett Baldwin and Laurent Collet-Billon signed an agreement to enable the next phase of the UCAS programme to begin. This means that the three UK and three French companies (BAES, Dassault Aviation, Rolls Royce, Safran, Leonardo and Thales) who have worked hard to deliver the feasibility phase of the ambitious UCAS programme over the last two years will be able to further develop the programme in preparation for the full €2B (c.£1.5Bn) demonstrator programme. This phase will begin in late 2017.
The Demonstration Programme will develop two full-scale versatile and world-class UCAS operational demonstrators by 2025. These demonstrators will be used for operational test and evaluation work over the following 5-10 years and could serve as the basis for a future operational capability beyond 2030.
Building on commitments made in the Lancaster House Treaty, the UK and France will also work together to examine the future combat air environment, including innovative approaches to the integration of manned and unmanned systems.
Minister for Defence Procurement, Harriett Baldwin said:
This innovative project further strengthens the UK-French defence relationship and supports innovative research on both sides of the Channel.
In an uncertain world, working with international partners and allies is more important than ever and I am delighted that our teams, working with British and French industry partners, are making good progress on these ambitious bilateral programmes.
With a rising Defence budget, and a £178 billion equipment plan, our commitment to innovation and collaboration will deliver a safer and more prosperous Britain.
The UK and France also deepened bilateral cooperation on hydrodynamic testing by signing a Specific Cooperative Arrangement (SCA). Hydrodynamic testing plays a vital role in water similar to that of a wind tunnel on land and in the air. Work over the next 18 months includes acoustic testing of different rotor blade profiles and Type 26 Global Combat Ship propeller testing.
This is a significant achievement after several years of negotiation on a programme which generates valuable outcomes for both nations. This area has become an exemplar for close UK-French defence and security cooperation under the Lancaster House Agreement.
Délégué Général pour l’Armement, Laurent Collet-Billon said:
The documents that we signed today are concrete evidence of the strong links that bind France and the United Kingdom in the armament field. By signing these new agreements, we have set the momentum for the coming months.
I sincerely thank the French and British teams for the huge amount of work that has led to this achievement.
Several major milestones within our equipment cooperation await us in 2017 and we will work just as hard to pass them. I am specifically thinking about the FC/ASW programme conception phase contract award in March 2017 and the launch of the FCAS programme demonstration phase at the end of the year.
On land, UK-French defence cooperation has led to the integration of the Case Telescoped Cannon (CTC) onto the Army’s new multi-role AJAX armoured vehicle and the Warrior infantry fighting vehicle Ajax and Warrior, while France is integrating it onto the Jaguar armoured vehicle.
The CT Cannon is a great example of bilateral cooperation leading to improved capability for our armed forces. The CT Cannon is smaller and lighter than conventional weapons of similar calibres, providing unrivalled punch for its size. The unique cylindrical CT ammunition design takes up less space than similar systems and is easier to select and load for automatic handling systems.
As a result of the progress made on the programme, the UK and France have signed a contract with CTA International. The contract is to cover technical support matters of the qualified CTCA equipment, and is for three years with options to extend for a further 2 years.