Anglo-French Deal Rewrites Military History

The Independent (London, England), November 2, 2010 | Go to article overview
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Anglo-French Deal Rewrites Military History


Britain and France will today announce a landmark defence alliance ranging from military operations in land, sea and air to nuclear weapons.

David Cameron and Nicolas Sarkozy will sign two declarations during a summit in London paving the way for the sharing of an aircraft carrier, sending a joint military force into battle, working together on cyber warfare and developing warheads for nuclear missiles.

The British Prime Minister and the French President are said to have been personally involved in driving forward the agreement which, it is claimed, will lead to considerable savings in a variety of fields, from the cost of research to maintenance of equipment to wage bills for personnel.

The two countries account for almost half of defence spending and 70 per cent of the research and development by the European Union, as well as providing more than 55 per cent of operational armed forces. This has, however, led to a degree of duplication in procurement and manpower. However, the sharing of resources also potentially means each country having to sacrifice some military and political options. This is highlighted in the use of aircraft carriers, under which the lone carrier of one navy will cover for the other during refits. However, the government owning the vessel would have the right of veto to a mission.

One of the British carriers under construction, the HMS Prince of Wales, is now being fitted with landing equipment which can be used not only by Joint Strike Fighters being bought by the UK, but French Rafale jets as well. The other carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth, will be mothballed soon after coming into service while attempts are made to sell it off.

The planned rapid reaction force, of around 6,500, could be ready for deployment by next year.

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