French/UK working group to study UAV projects

London
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A joint working group involving members of the French and UK parliamentary defence committees has agreed to discuss increased co-operation in the unmanned air vehicle sector as one of its first two bilateral projects.

Senior officials from the French National Assembly and Senate and the UK House of Commons and House of Lords met for the first time in Paris on 8 December. They agreed that the planned transition of responsibility to local forces in Afghanistan and UAV matters will be its two working themes for 2011.

To meet twice a year, the group will study the planned implementation of increased collaboration between the French and UK armed forces, as outlined in a defence treaty signed by President Nicolas Sarkozy and Prime Minister David Cameron on 2 November.

This included proposals to establish a combined joint expeditionary force, share use of their aircraft carriers, integrate logistics support for the Airbus Military A400M transport and pursue possible collaboration on unmanned combat air vehicles.

"Franco-British co-operation is a fundamental and essential component of our sovereignty and our military independence, and therefore, too, of the autonomy of our foreign policy," says a statement issued by the group.

While it says co-operation between the allies has improved since the 1998 Saint Malo Summit in 1998, the group notes: "With the accumulated economic and financial constraint combined with budgetary restrictions, our efforts must be combined still further."

The next meeting will be take place in London by mid-2011.