06 Nov 2014

UK and France continue defence contract cooperation

Summary: Contracts worth almost £120m have been awarded as part of a continuing commitment between the UK and France to cooperate on defence procurement.

The new contracts will help develop the unmanned fighter planes of the future by commissioning studies for new combat drones that could be ready for deployment in 2030.

The joint work between the UK and France will improve the interoperability of both countries’ forces, enhance joint equipment procurement and build on the capacity to support security and stability across the world.

The work will involve six industry partners exploring concepts and options for the potential collaborative purchase of an unmanned combat air system (UCAS).

The partners selected include Dassault Aviation and Britain’s BAE Systems, which will undertake a two-year feasibility study worth £117m.

Also involved are Rolls-Royce, Safran, Thales and Selex ES.

The contracts award was announced by Bernard Gray, the Ministry of Defence’s Chief of Defence Materiel, and his counterpart, Laurent Collet-Billon, head of the French Directorate General of Armaments.

Mr Gray said: “The development of unmanned combat air systems is of vital importance to the UK and France, which have the most capable and experienced armed forces in Europe and well-established defence industrial bases.

“By working together and drawing on a common vision we will see military, technological and financial benefit and sustain skills to fulfil our mutual needs and aspirations in the combat air sector.”