France: Britain and France are going to develop new anti-ship missiles in a USD 827 million project that stems from a major defence cooperation agreement. The multi-national group MBDA has been awarded the contract to produce the helicopter-mounted missiles, which use sophisticated homing technology to attack small and medium-sized targets. The Royal Navy will use them on its new Wildcat helicopters.
The deal is the first collaborative project announced since an Anglo-French summit held at RAF Brize Norton airbase in late January between Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Francois Hollande. Britain hailed the deal as a significant step in joint working on complex weapons between the two nations. “The deal takes us into a new era of cooperation which will allow us to make significant savings in future programmes,” said Antoine Bouvier, MBDA Chief Executive. The group brings together British defence group BAE Systems, the European group Airbus and Finmeccanica of Italy. Britain's Defence Secretary Philip Hammond and his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian signed an outline agreement for the project at the Brize Norton summit. But the deal is part of a wider programme of defence cooperation announced by Cameron and then-French president Nicolas Sarkozy at a summit in London in November 2010. Under the Lancaster House agreement, Europe's two biggest militaries agreed to cooperate on joint projects to increase efficiency and seek savings.