22 May 2018

Britain and France Sign Agreement for Test Pilot Exchange

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson and French Minister of the Armed Forces Mme Florence Parly have held the first Defence Ministerial Council since the announcement of a permanent and regular forum for the discussion of UK-France defence cooperation in January 2018.

During the meeting, a bespoke technical arrangement which will oversee the exchange of test pilots between the two nations was signed. The agreement formalises an exchange enabling French pilots to train at the UK Empire Test Pilots’ School based at MOD Boscombe Down, and British pilots to train at the French Test Pilots’ School, Ecole du Personnel Navigant d’Essais et de Reception based on the Istres Le Tube Airbase.  This reciprocal exchange of personnel ensures that the skills of military flight test, analysis and capability enhancement are shared between the Armed Forces of UK and France, further strengthening the UK’s relationship with France and building on the strong partnership between our armed forces.

The UK and France have successfully carried out the second development firing of the Sea Venom missile which will equip the Royal Navy and French Navy helicopters to prosecute a wide range of surface threats, from fast inshore attack craft up to corvette-sized vessels, including in coastal environments. Sea Venom has both ‘fire and forget’ mode as well as a ‘man in the loop’ capability, which allows full missile control until target impact.

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said: “France is one of our most important allies and this agreement symbolises the importance of deep defence and security relationships. By participating in this exchange programme, we will strengthen understanding between our personnel.

“We are the only two European powers willing and able to deploy and sustain significant military power and we will continue to work towards a special partnership for the future.”

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