Future Anti-Ship Missile Systems: Joint inquiry with the Assemblée nationale's Standing Committee on National Defence and the Armed Forces Contents


UK-France Defence Cooperation

1.The United Kingdom and France have had a long and successful history of defence cooperation, particularly in the missile field. The Royal Navy was an early export customer for the Exocet anti-ship missile in the 1970s and the only foreign country to receive the most sophisticated version of the homing head. The Royal Navy’s first small helicopter-launched anti-ship missile, the AS12, was also French. In recent years, UK-France cooperation has seen the formation of a Combined Joint Expeditionary Force, available for deployment for bilateral, NATO, EU, UN or coalition operations, as well as joint air-strike operations in Syria (with the United States) in 2018.1

2.At the heart of this increased cooperation is the Lancaster House Agreement (‘the Agreement’) between the UK and French Governments which was signed in 2010.2 The Agreement had five main objectives:

i)maximising their [the UK’s and France’s] capacities through coordinating development, acquisition, deployment and maintenance of a range of capabilities, facilities, equipment, materials and services, to perform the full spectrum of missions, including the most demanding missions;

ii)reinforcing the defence industry of the two Parties, fostering cooperation in research and technology and developing cooperative equipment programmes;

iii)deploying together into theatres in which both Parties have agreed to be engaged, in operations conducted under the auspices of the United Nations, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation or the European Union’s Common Security and Defence Policy or in a coalition or bilateral framework, as well as supporting, as agreed on a case by case basis, one Party when it is engaged in operations in which the other Party is not part;

iv)ensuring the viability and safety of their national deterrents, consistent with the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons; and

v)ensuring their support for action in the United Nations, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and the European Union under the Common Security and Defence Policy as well as complementarity between the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and the European Union in all relevant areas.3

3.Alongside the Agreement, a package of joint measures was also unveiled by both Governments. Those measures include:

a)The development of a Combined Joint Expeditionary Force as a non-standing (i.e. not permanent) bilateral capability able to carry out a range of operations either bilaterally or through NATO, the EU or other coalition arrangements.

b)The ability, by the early 2020s, to deploy a UK-French integrated carrier strike group incorporating assets from both countries.

c)The development of a common support plan, and closer cooperation on training development, for the A400M transport aircraft will be developed.

d)Plans to jointly develop some of the equipment and technologies for the next generation of nuclear submarines.

e)The alignment of elements of mine countermeasures equipment and systems.

f)An assessment of the potential for co-operation on future military satellite communications, with a view to reducing overall costs while preserving national sovereignty.

g)The potential to use spare capacity that may be available in the UK’s Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft (FSTA) programme to meet France’s requirement for air to air refuelling and military air transport is being investigated.

h)France and UK will work together on the next generation of medium-altitude, long endurance unmanned air surveillance systems.

i)A 10-year strategic plan for the British and French missile sector has been agreed, with a series of joint complex weapons programmes.

j)The continuation of cooperation in research and technology, with an annual budget of €50m each devoted to shared research and development.

k)The agreement of a framework governing enhanced co-operation in the field of cyber security, and the enhancement of co-operation in the sphere of counter-terrorism.4

Since 2010, summits between UK and France to monitor implementation of the Agreement have been held every two years.5 The most recent, in Sandhurst, was held in 2018.

Inter-parliamentary cooperation

4.The 2010 Agreement has not just seen strengthened cooperation at the inter-governmental level, but also closer working relationships at the inter-parliamentary level. To date much of this work has taken place in the form of the UK-France Parliamentary Working Group on Bilateral Defence Co-operation (‘the Parliamentary Working Group’).

5.The Parliamentary Working Group emerged as a result of a conference held on 6 December 2010. Attended by members of the House of Commons Defence Committee, the House of Lords EU Sub-Committee and Sub-Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Development and members of the Assemblée nationale’s Standing Committee on National Defence and the Armed Forces and the Senate’s Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and the Armed Forces. The aim of the conference was to coordinate parliamentary scrutiny of the High Level Working Group of French and UK Ministers, and to monitor the implementation of the UK-French treaties signed at Lancaster House in November 2010. An agreement was reached to hold two meetings of the Parliamentary Working group a year, alternating between Paris and London. The four chambers are represented as follows:

In recent years, the Parliamentary Working Group has met several times. For example, in 2018, the Group met:

These meetings have enabled parliamentarians of both countries to discuss the achievements of, and the prospects for, operational and industrial cooperation between the UK and France since the Lancaster House Agreement was signed.

Our inquiry

6.At the Parliamentary Working Group’s meeting in Paris in February 2018, the Chairmen of the House of Commons Defence Committee, the Rt Hon Dr Julian Lewis MP, and the Assemblée nationale’s Standing Committee on National Defence and the Armed Forces, Jean-Jacques Bridey, agreed to deepen the collaboration between their two committees.

7.Both Committees agreed to hold a joint inquiry into the Future Cruise/Anti-Ship Weapon (FC/ASW) programme. The FC/ASW seeks to develop a new generation of deep strike and anti-ship missiles that can be in service from 2030, replacing the capabilities hitherto provided by Harpoon and Exocet (anti-ship missiles) and SCALP/Storm Shadow (deep strike). In 2017, both Governments agreed to conduct a concept phase, led by MBDA, on the development of the next generation of FC/ASW capabilities for both countries. The FC/ASW programme was chosen by both Committees as the subject of this joint inquiry due to its importance to the ‘One Complex Weapons Initiative’ that has, itself, been at the heart of UK-France defence cooperation.6

8.The joint inquiry’s terms of reference invited evidence submissions on the following:

9.The joint inquiry consisted of Members from the Defence Committee, of which the core group8 was the Rt Hon John Spellar MP, the Rt Hon Mr Mark Francois MP, Mrs Madeleine Moon MP and Gavin Robinson MP, and a delegation of Members of the Standing Committee on National Defence and the Armed Forces. This delegation was led by two co-rapporteurs, Mme Natalia Pouzyreff and M. Charles de la Verpillière, and included M. Alexis Corbière, M. Jean-Pierre Cubertafon, M. Jean-Jacques Ferrara, M. Jean-Christophe Lagarde, M. Jean-Charles Larsonneur and M. Stéphane Trompille.

10.During the course of the joint inquiry, two evidence sessions were held: in London on 11 July and in Paris on 24 July. In London, our witnesses were Guto Bebb MP, the then Minister for Defence Procurement, Sir Simon Bollom, CEO of Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) at the Ministry of Defence (MoD), Lt General Sir Mark Poffley MP, Deputy Chief of the Defence Staff (Military Capability). In Paris, we took evidence from Joël Barre, Chief Executive of the DGA, Admiral Christophe Prazuck, Chief of the French Navy, Antoine Bouvier, CEO of MBDA, and Chris Allam, Managing Director of MBDA UK. We also received written evidence from Lockheed Martin, MBDA and Raytheon. Our French counterparts have separately taken evidence from military and industrial representatives.9 We thank all those who gave evidence to this joint inquiry. The Defence Committee also appointed Dr Jeremy Stocker and Dr John Louth to act as Specialist Advisers for this inquiry and are grateful to them for their contribution to our work.

11.A French language version of this report, as agreed by the Assemblee nationale’s Standing Committee on National Defence and the Armed Forces, is appended to this report.

1 HM Government (21 April 2016), Defence Secretary welcomes deployable UK-France joint force; H. Ellis-Petersen and P. Beaumont (14 April 2018), World reacts to overnight strikes on Syria by US, UK and French forces, The Guardian

4 HM Government (2 November 2010), UK-France Defence Co-operation Treaty announced

5 Since the Lancaster House Agreement was signed in 2010, UK-France Summits have taken place in Paris (2012), RAF Brize Norton (2014), Amiens (2016) and Sandhurst (2018).

6 Julian Lewis and Jean-Jacques Bridey (25 June 2018), Defensive positions, The House Magazine, p.26

7 Julian Lewis and Jean-Jacques Bridey (25 June 2018), Defensive positions, The House Magazine, p.26

8 In addition to this core group of Members, the following Defence Committee Members also participated in the London evidence session: Rt Hon Julian Lewis MP and Ruth Smeeth MP

9 For a comprehensive list of the evidence sessions the Assemblée nationale’s Standing Committee on National Defence and the Armed Forces has held on this topic, see: Assemblée nationale, Mission d’information relative à la prochaine génération de missiles anti-navires

Published: 12 December 2018