UK Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Nicolas Sarkozy jointly signed The Declaration on Defence and Security Co-operation yesterday at the 2010 UK-France Summit. The treaty, dubbed by the tabloids as ‘the entente frugale’, contains two paragraphs on drones:
Unmanned Air Systems have become essential to our armed forces. We have agreed to work together on the next generation of Medium Altitude Long Endurance Unmanned Air Surveillance Systems. Co-operation will enable the potential sharing of development, support and training costs, and ensure that our forces can work together. We will launch a jointly funded, competitive assessment phase in 2011, with a view to new equipment delivery between 2015and 2020.
In the longer term, we will jointly assess requirements and options for the next generation of Unmanned Combat Air Systems from 2030 onwards. Building on work already started under the direction of the UK-France High Level Working Group, we will develop over the next two years a joint technological and industrial roadmap. This could lead to a decision in 2012 to launch a joint Technology and Operational Demonstration programme from 2013 to 2018.
Within hours BAE Systems and Dassault Aviation had submitted a joint letter to the two leaders offering to work together to jointly develop drones. As I have previously suggested, (‘SDSR, Drones and Autonomy) FlightGlobal is reporting that this will mean “building on the lessons learned during Europe’s Dassault-led Neuron and BAE Systems’ Taranis technology demonstration programmes”.
BAE Systems told the Financial Times that they welcomed the proposal to develop a joint drone “Not only is this an important milestone in terms of the development of our unmanned aircraft capability, but it represents a significant investment in the future of our UK and French military aerospace capability.”
As I say far too often on this blog, meanwhile US drones strikes continue in North Waziristan with eleven people killed in three separate drones strikes today (3rd November) and five killed in a drone strike on Monday (1st) according to the Press Association.
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