France and the United Kingdom do not agree on the subject of defense

The differences between Britain and France have been growing since Brexit. Franco-British military cooperation is also passing through an area of ​​unrest, with Paris and London unable to agree on the continuation of the anti-ship and cruise missile program they had planned to develop jointly. The dispute comes in a very tense political context over a project deemed vital to European strategic autonomy, following the announcement of a strategic partnership between the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom to counter China’s AUKUS, nuclear-powered Includes supplies of submarines. Canberra and Joe effectively took Paris out of the game.

And it adds to the many points of tension between the two countries because of Brexit, whether over fishing or immigration. “Undoubtedly, this is a difficult program, given the state of our relations with the United Kingdom. We are currently thinking about whether it is possible to do or not to do with the British,” Armed Minister Florence Parly said on Tuesday. Told the Foreign Affairs Committee of the National Assembly. According to a French ministry source, the meeting in late September between Florence Parly and her British counterpart Ben Wallace was canceled at the request of Paris.

Within the framework of the 2010 Lancaster House Treaty, which seals Franco-British cooperation in defence, Paris and London have agreed to develop a new generation of anti-ship missiles to replace the French Navy’s exosuits by 2030. working on the program. and the American-made Royal Navy Harpoon, as well as cruise missiles to succeed the Scallops and Storm Shadow, developed by MBDA for both countries. But this FMAN/FMC (Future Anti-Ship Missile/Future Cruise Missile) project is slipping away.

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“This program was to be the subject of intense discussion in the coming weeks, precisely because we had to make sure that we had several convergence requirements. This discussion would be postponed compared to the initial schedule”, Ms. Parly explained in the end. In the world in September in the interview.

“When he chose first Brexit, then + Global Britain + (a strategic concept that orientated British foreign policy toward the United States and the Indo-Pacific) and, finally, further increased dependence on the United States, The ball is in their court,” he concluded.

The first 100 million euro study, equally funded, began in March 2017 on the eve of the official launch of the process to leave the European Union by the United Kingdom. It focuses on a concept stage. The two countries have been negotiating a new three-year study for several months on two concepts: a stealth subsonic concept to meet the need for an aerial long-range cruise missile and a supersonic concept for an anti-ship missile. From surface ships, a report detailed by French deputies at the end of 2020.

In these discussions, the British emphasized the theft of the machine, the French at their own pace, according to the deputies. But according to a French source familiar with the matter, the British’s interest in the anti-ship missile project carried out by the British has waned.

The share of this cooperation is significant, with the two countries representing 60% of European defense spending and 80% of defense research and development spending. And even though Paris has extended cooperation with Berlin since 2017 and called for the arrival of European strategic autonomy, London remains at the center of its military cooperation projects.

Franco-British relations “face a really cold snap”, said AFP Christian Cambon, chairman of the Senate Defense Committee and “Brexit, like it or not, did not create the most favorable environment”. But, according to him, “our industrial and defense and security interests are so important and common that things will take their place.”

In addition to cooperation on missiles, the Lancaster House agreements specifically established the sharing of simulation capabilities in the area of ​​nuclear weapons (Tuettes Program) or the creation of a Joint Joint Operations Force (CJEF), which provided for the deployment of 10,000 troops. does. And in Mali, London provides the heavy Chinook helicopters that France desperately needs.

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