May 22, 2013
France, Britain agree drone cooperation
France and Britain agreed on Friday to jointly work to develop next-generation unmanned drones as part of their military cooperation as their leaders reconciled after an acrimonious clash over Europe last year.
President Nicolas Sarkozy and Prime Minister David Cameron appeared to lay to rest their dispute at the height of the euro zone crisis which saw the annual Franco-British summit postponed, and sought to coordinate on issues ranging from Syria to Iran and the European Union.
"There is a letter of intent for the long-term," French Defence Minister Gerard Longuet told Reuters after the summit.
"We are working together for the medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) drone and we are thinking together what the future combat drone should be."
Longuet said France's Dassault Aviation and British defence contractor BAE Systems would develop the unmanned aircraft, also known as UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles), used for reconnaissance and attack missions.
The two companies would also start work on a next-generation unmanned fighter jet, he said.
In November 2010, Sarkozy and Cameron signed a defence and security cooperation treaty to increase coordination between their countries' armed forces and co-develop equipment.
With the exception of the war in Libya when the two countries' militaries worked together to degrade the forces of Muammar Gaddafi, the relationship has focused more on commercial arms deals rather than on coordinating strategy.
In Britain, greater military collaboration with France is seen as a way of maintaining defence capability while slimming down the armed forces to save money.