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UK, France sign pact to study future missile technology

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The Scalp naval missile. A file photo

LONDON (BNS): Britain and France have signed a key agreement to jointly explore future missile technologies, mainly in the cruise/anti-ship missile domain, with missile maker MBDA.

The agreement was signed on March 28 between British Defence Minister Harriett Baldwin and her French counterpart Laurent Collet-Billon during a visit by the latter to the UK MoD, an official statement said.

The agreement, under which each country will contribute €50 million, a three-year long study led by MBDA will explore the development of future long range weapons for the British and French Navies and Air Forces.

The French directorate General of Armaments (DGA) will act as the contract authority in the concept study phase.

"The future cruise/anti-ship weapon programme will look at options to replace and improve existing Naval and Air Force weapons systems in the next decade. Lasting up to three years, this will help to define the missile designs and reduce risks to inform decisions about the next stage of the programme," the UK MoD said.

According to French Defence Minister Laurent Collet-Billon: "We are launching today a major new phase in our bilateral cooperation, by planning together a generation of missiles, successor to the Harpoon, SCALP and Storm Shadow.

"The FC/ASW (future cruise/anti-ship weapon) programme's aim is to have by around 2030 a new generation of missiles," he said.

This future capability is strategic, industrially as well as operationally. This new programme will be the backbone of our "one complex weapon" initiative," he added.

Britain and France have deepened their cooperation in defence technology domain following a landmark agreement signed between the two countries in 2010.

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