BAE Systems and Dassault Aviation have welcomed the launch by the UK and France of a joint two-year £120 million ($198 million) feasibility study into a future unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV).
The pact was unveiled today at a summit between Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Francois Hollande at RAF Brize Norton in the UK.
Early research on the programme has already been carried out by the two companies, along with partners Rolls-Royce, Safran, Thales and Selex, leading to the recent completion of a joint study presented to both governments. The "preparation phase" work was conducted following the 2010 Lancaster House treaty, which deepened defence ties between the two nations.
Eric Trappier, Dassault chief executive, says: "This launch by the French and British authorities is contributing to the development of the combat air systems sector, and is paving the way for the future in this strategic field."
Ian King, chief executive of BAE Systems, adds: "Given the strong research and development investment and progress in technology that has already been made, continuing work in unmanned air systems will also ensure we maintain the core knowledge and key skills necessary to make a make a long-term contribution to both our national economies.”
Both companies have already been working on UCAV demonstration programmes. BAE's Taranis has conducted test flights in conjunction with the UK Ministry of Defence, while Dassault was the industrial lead on the multination Neuron programme, which made its maiden flight in December 2012.
Technologies from both are likely to be utilised on the future Anglo-French UCAV.