12.The FC/ASW programme was established to produce a new generation of missiles replacing the Exocet and Harpoon anti-ship missiles and the SCALP/Storm Shadow cruise missiles which, by 2030, will no longer be adequate in responding to the threat. Given the areas of convergence between our two countries and the similar objectives around these future capacities, the programme was launched in 2010, as part of a cooperation agreement between France and the United Kingdom.
13.As stated in Chapter One, the FC/ASW programme did not mark the start of Franco-British cooperation in the field of missiles. This twenty-year relationship came into being with the SCALP EG/Storm Shadow deep strike programme, launched by the two countries in the late 1990s.
Box 1: The SCALP/Storm Shadow Programme
Seeing the efficacy of the American cruise missile strikes during the first Gulf War, the French and British forces voiced, in the early 1990s, the need for capacity to strike strategic targets deep in the enemy territory. To respond to those needs, two distinct competitions were launched in each country.
While, due to a lack of budgetary resources, the French competition did not give rise to any contracts, the call for tenders launched by the Ministry of Defence in 1994 ultimately saw the Matra Bae Dynamics (MBD) consortium, selected in 1996, created for this occasion by British Aerospace (BAe) and the French player Matra. In 1997, MBD was notified that it had been awarded the contract to develop and produce approximately one thousand missiles.
As a recent study pointed out, the UK tender opened an exit route for France: aligning with the UK’s choice enabled it to resolve its budgetary issues. Consequently, in 1998, France was able to award MBD a contract for a series of 500 missiles instead of the 100 missiles initially planned, thanks to the reduction in unit costs made possible by the double British and French orders. This armament programme is therefore not, strictly speaking, the result of Franco-British cooperation, but of two contracts signed independently with an industrial company, MBD, which agreed to take on the contractual and financial risks of such a programme.
The cruise missile resulting from this programme, called SCALP EG in its French version and Storm Shadow in its British version, gives the French and British forces a considerable advantage. It combines high range, in excess of 250 kilometres, thus guaranteeing the safety of the launch platform, with stealth, such that it can remain unnoticed by the opposing defenders. The SCALP EG/Storm Shadow equips the Tornado and the Eurofighter Typhoon of the Royal Air Force as well as the Mirage 2000 and the Rafale of the French Air Force and Navy.
14.This ambitious cooperation programme, which has been widely hailed for its success, has shown just how valuable cooperation can be even in an area that is a matter of national sovereignty. It has enabled our two countries to maintain genuine operational autonomy by producing a weapon, the performance of which rivals American capacities yet without being dependent on the United States. The pooling of resources and know-how between the two countries made it possible to share costs and, in the case of France, thus made this programme acceptable from a budgetary point of view. Lastly, according to the study by the French think tank, Fondation pour la Recherche Stratégique, the SCALP EG/Storm Shadow program was “the main catalyst for the creation of the European industrial company MBDA”.
15.A foundational programme, SCALP EG/Storm Shadow programme paved the way for new cooperation between France and the United Kingdom, which has sometimes expanded to other European partners.
16.This cooperation reached a new milestone almost ten years ago, in 2009, when France and the United Kingdom jointly decided to launch the ‘light anti-ship’ programme (Sea Venom/ANL) to offer additional capacity to neutralise fast and light boats at sea from a helicopter. The project was confirmed at the Franco-British summit in Brize Norton on 31 January 2014, after which the French and British Defence Ministers were able to award the missile development and production contract to MBDA. Currently in the test phase, the Sea Venom/ANL programme is considered to be a precursor to the future cruise and anti-ship weapon FC/ASW programme. Some consider it to be a “test” of the Franco-British capacity jointly to launch the FC/ASW programme which, although it also covers anti-ship capacity, is of an entirely different scale.
17.As outlined in Chapter One, Franco-British cooperation in the field of missiles, which is historic, was further strengthened by the signing of the Lancaster House agreement on 2 November 2010. Since 2010, the two Governments have met every two years to review progress and at the most recent summit, in Sandhurst in 2018, the President of the French Republic, Mr Emmanuel Macron, and the British Prime Minister, Mrs Theresa May, confirmed these guidelines and announced that a regular and permanent discussion forum would be set up to discuss UK-French cooperation. A number of high-level meetings, including the issue of missile cooperation, have been held since then.
18.Today, the “One Complex Weapon” initiative begun by the Lancaster House Treaty is at the heart of this cooperation. It covers a wide spectrum of joint missile projects, including:
19.From the original structuring programme launched at the end of the 1990s, UK-French cooperation has grown in importance to include an ever-increasing number of missile programmes.
20.The importance of Franco-British cooperation has created an impetus for industrial rapprochement between the two countries. Nowhere has this been more evident than in the creation, and continuing success, of MBDA.
Box 2: MBDA: The Emergence of a leading international player in the missile field
While in the 1990s, the European missile sector was fragmented into multiple industrial players, the SCALP EG/Storm Shadow programme brought Matra and BAe closer together in industry. According to the aforementioned study by the Foundation for Strategic Research (FRS), “for Matra Défense as well as for BAe Dynamics, it quickly became clear that the alliance could and should be transformed into a merger (a solution also advocated by the governments on both sides of the Channel)”. As described previously, this merger led to the creation of Matra Bae Dynamics (MBD), a new global player offering a wide range of products in the field of missiles.
This process of consolidation continued to gather pace when MBD merged with Italy’s Marconi Systems, and subsequently, France’s Aerospatiale, giving rise to MBDA in 2001. The SCALP EG/Storm Shadow programme nevertheless remains the matrix that led, stage by stage, to the creation of the European industrial player MBDA.
MBDA currently accounts for 70% of the European missile industry. By comparison, its competitors in Europe have capacities that remain relatively limited. Today, as Joël Barre explained to the joint inquiry, MBDA is “the European missile builder [...] it is a world-class company and it is very successful in exports”.
21.In the context of the Lancaster House agreement and building on the benefits of this industrial rationalisation, France and the United Kingdom decided to launch the “One MBDA” initiative bringing MBDA entities closer together in France and the United Kingdom.
22.The “One MBDA” initiative is aimed at creating a sustainable, competitive and independent missile industry that would enable France and the United Kingdom to maintain their sovereignty and guarantee their freedom of action in the field of missiles. The Franco-British declaration accompanying the Lancaster House Treaty summarises the expected benefits of this initiative as follows: “the strategy will maximise efficiency in delivering military capability, harness our technologies more effectively, permit increasing interdependence, and consolidate our Complex Weapons industrial base”.
23.These developments, alongside the merger of MBDA entities, are expected to result in a reduction in the burden of development costs that both countries’ militaries face. The signatories of the Lancaster House Treaty estimated that the savings resulting from the establishment of a single European missile industry could reach 30% of the cost of developing missiles.
24.The “One MBDA” initiative seeks to deliver shared benefits arising from the UK’s and France’s relationship of mutual dependence in the missile field. Each country agreed to rely on the other, as well as strengthening itself by the other, in the development and production of its missiles. This link of mutual dependency above all presupposes deep confidence in the strength of the ties between our two countries. This political commitment is all the more ambitious as it concerns a strategic area located at the heart of national sovereignty.
25.The intergovernmental agreement signed on 24 September 2015 by the ministers of the two countries brought about the reorganisation of MBDA in France and the United Kingdom. Shared “centres of excellence” have been set up on both sides of the Channel in a number of technological areas in order to optimise skills and generate economies of scale to the benefit of the company’s competitiveness.
26.There are eight centres of excellence, divided between four specialised centres and four federated centres. France hosts centres specialising in Electronic Control Units (ECUs) and test equipment; the United Kingdom, specialised centres in control surfaces and data links. For the four federated centres of excellence - algorithms, military charges, software and navigation - each nation maintains a significant level of powers, while allowing a better load balance that enhances MBDA’s efficiency. Consequently, engineers from either of the two nations can work on the other’s programmes.
27.According to Joël Barre, Delegate General for Armament, this arrangement means that “today, our missile industry is Franco-British. MBDA is a Franco-British company with centres of excellence shared by the two nations and all the skills needed to carry out the ambitious missile programmes we are talking about”.
28.The industrial mutual dependence embodied by MBDA forms an important pillar of UK-France cooperation post-Lancaster House and this unique model of industrial cooperation has been to the benefit of both countries’ industrial and skills bases.
29.There is convergence between France and the United Kingdom in their threat analysis and desire for a capability to respond to this threat picture. These points of convergence provide an important underpinning for the FC/ASW programme.
30.Both the UK’s and France’s most recent defence and security strategy reviews have highlighted a drastic change in the geostrategic context in the next years compared to the state of the world over the past two or three decades.
31.Above all, two significant developments in the geostrategic context are requiring that the West ramp up its military capacities.
32.First of all, we are currently witnessing a return of power states, along with a resurgence in a form of strategic competition between States on the international scene. For example, the considerable investments made by Russia, amounting to 3 to 4% of its GDP, and China, whose military budget has quadrupled in just ten years, have resulted in the design and construction of significant arsenals in both quantity and quality. Addressing the joint inquiry, Admiral Prazuck, Chief of Staff of the French Navy, observed “the emergence of new powers, capable of building the equivalent of the French Navy every four years [China], and with offensive capacities likely to call into question the sovereignty of certain maritime areas, or the security of communications lines essential to ensuring supply to Europe”. A new “arms race” does appear to be underway.
33.This new strategic situation is already resulting in increased tensions in several regions of the world. In the South China Sea, China has undertaken to occupy several disputed islands, stirring acute tensions with the countries of the region as well as with the United States. There are also increasing sources of friction in the skies over the Levant due to the concentration of the players involved in the Syrian conflict and the fight against terrorism. For instance, one Israeli F-16 fighter was recently shot down in Syria, an event that would have been difficult to imagine one decade ago.
34.Secondly, access to the strategic spaces is increasingly disputed due to the rise and spread of increasingly-effective access denial systems (anti-access, area denial or A2/AD). These A2/AD strategies are the result of a ramp-up in:
35.Traditionally in the hands of the major powers, these systems have become widely disseminated, as evidenced by the proliferation of Russian systems such as S-300 or S-400 in Syria, sometimes even coming into the possession of non-State players. This applies not only to common weapons but also the most recent equipment. For example, Houthi militias recently used anti-ship missiles in the Arab Persian Gulf, targeting American ships in particular.
36.This shake-up in the strategic environment is expected to continue. Admiral Prazuck told us that “disruptive influences have invested hugely in long range high-velocity missiles and highly effective (and increasingly widespread) surface-to-air missiles, which have completely upset the strategic landscape”. There is a serious, and growing, risk of incidents between powers, incidents that themselves pose an increased risk of an escalation of violence. As a result, both of our countries need to be prepared, and equipped, for the prospect of high-intensity conflict in mind.
37.In addition to sharing the same analysis of threats, our countries have quite similar armed forces, hence the closeness in the strategic and operational outlooks between France and the United Kingdom. As major military powers on the European continent, our two countries have in common advanced military capabilities on land, at sea and in the air. This military apparatus is financed by defence budgets that far outweigh those of other European countries.
38.Each navy has nearly eighty surface vessels, including nuclear submarines and aircraft carriers. Observing these similarities, Admiral Prazuck had no hesitation about calling the French navy and British Royal Navy “twin sisters”. Moreover, each country’s air force comprises nearly eight hundred aircraft, including high-performance combat aircraft. In France, there is the Mirage 2000 and Rafale, while the Royal Air Force boasts Typhoon and Tornado.
39.Beyond naval and air platforms, this convergence is particularly strong in the field of missiles. As Joël Barre, Delegate General for Armament, asserted before the parliamentarians: “Apart from France and the United Kingdom, no country in Europe currently has the capacity to carry out a deep strike”. Twenty years ago, this proximity influenced the decision to launch the SCALP EG/Storm Shadow programme on the basis of Franco-British cooperation.
40.Moreover, France and the United Kingdom share common values and interests, toward which they put their military resources. Following the Entente Cordiale of 1904, France and the United Kingdom built a strong and lasting alliance based on a comparable doctrine of the use of force. This strategic convergence led the two countries to wage multiple joint battles, from the two World Wars to the international coalitions of the late 20th century, such as the first Gulf War or the wars in the former Yugoslavia.
41.Despite a number of divergences, as illustrated by the United Kingdom’s participation in the war in Iraq from 2003, France and the United Kingdom have, in recent years, been able to demonstrate the reality of their strategic closeness by participating in numerous joint operations, including Operation Harmattan (Libya) in 2011 and Operation Hamilton (Syria) in April 2018.
42.Sharing a similar understanding of the threat pictures facing their respective countries, as well as enjoying comparable armed forces, it is not surprising that the UK and France also share similar operational requirements. If the concept phase has yet to specify the operational requirements of each country, which is a prerequisite to finding a common solution within the FC/ASW programme, the similarity of the operational need of our countries is, in broad terms, certain. In order to maintain first-class forces, France and the United Kingdom will have to maintain high-level sea-strike and aerial capabilities. To this end, the modernisation of French and British missile armouries is a key consideration.
Box 3: History of Anti-Ship Missiles and Cruise Missiles
Anti-ship missiles and cruise missiles are central to contemporary military operations. The Six Day War of June 1967 was the first time artillery was replaced with anti-ship missiles as the main weaponry for surface ships. The destruction of the Israeli frigate INS Eilat, in October 1967, was caused by Egyptian anti-ship missiles. Heavy anti- ship missiles gave their owners an undeniable operational advantage.
The cruise missile came on the scene later with the American Tomahawk, the first use of which dates from the first Gulf War in 1990–1991. As stated earlier, the efficacy of American Tomahawks stirred France and the United Kingdom to equip themselves with their own cruise missiles by launching the SCALP EG/Storm Shadow programme.
Anti-ship missiles and cruise missiles are indeed weapons of use. Admittedly, the French navy, which has had anti-ship missiles since the early 1970s, has never fired an Exocet operationally. Nevertheless, other States have made use of them, including Argentina when attacking the British destroyer HMS Sheffield during the Falklands War. More recently, non-state organizations, from Hezbollah to the Houthi militias, have launched anti-ship missiles. In total, nearly 800 such missiles have been fired.
More recently, the SCALP/Storm Shadow cruise missile was used for the first time by the British in the context of the Telic operation in Iraq in 2003. France also fired numerous SCALP missiles during Operation Harmattan in Libya in 2011, Operation Chammal in Iraq in 2016 and again during Operation Hamilton in Syria in April 2018.
43.It is likely that, by 2030, the FC/ASW programme will have to meet three needs:
ii)the elimination of enemy air defences;
More specifically, the future anti-ship missile (FASW) will have to meet a two-fold need.
44.First, it will make it possible to deal with a confrontation between fleets on the high seas, stemming from the resurgence of hostile states referred to above. In concrete terms, the new missile will have to enable both our surface ships and our aircraft (combat aircraft and maritime patrol aircraft) to neutralise any ship deemed threatening, and thereby protect our interests and those of our allies. It is above all a defensive tool, the modernisation of which will enable our navies to maintain their prominence in strategic competition at sea.
45.Secondly, FASW should also be able to be used more aggressively in order to respond to the increasing number of ground-to-air or ground-to-sea defences, in particular those installed along the coasts. Today, these systems have been perfected by the use of anti-missile missiles with increased reach and manoeuvrability launched, moreover, from very mobile platforms, which are therefore difficult to reach.
46.For this reason, both Air Division General Thierry Angel, Deputy Head of Planning for the Future at the French Air Force Staff, speaking to the Assemblée nationale’s rapporteurs, and Admiral Prazuck, before the two committees, stressed that the FASW could fulfil the capacity to suppress enemy air defences (suppression of enemy air defence or SEAD). For example, our forces will need to be able to reach long-range systems such as S-300 or S400, themselves defended by short-range air defence systems such as Pantsir S-1, which are both very swift and manoeuvrable.
47.The future cruise missile (FCM) should make it possible to renew deep strike capacity in order to achieve high-value objectives, very often hardened, in the depth of the opposing system. Today, this capacity is delivered by means of SCALP/Storm Shadow missiles, which are now very high-performance, but which will appear obsolete by 2030. The performance of the future cruise missile is also partly linked to the ability of the future anti-ship missile to eliminate the opposing ground-to-air or ground-to-sea defences, in order to enable penetration deep into enemy territory.
48.Launching a joint project such as FC/ASW assumes that both partners share compatible timetables. In this case, there is agreement that both the UK and France’s operational requirements must be met by 2030.
49.On deep strike, for example, the two countries’ deadlines converge entirely, due to the existing shared missile platform that both enjoy. Designed jointly and delivered at about the same time, the SCALP/Storm Shadow missiles will be removed from service on comparable dates.
50.In service in both the UK and France, SCALP/Storm Shadow already faces multiple areas of operational obsolescence. Currently capable of reaching a target located about 400 kilometres away, these missiles will nevertheless have too little range given the increased capabilities of enemy missiles and the deployment of increasingly efficient A2/AD systems.
51.In this context, the mid-life renovation begun on half of the stock in 2016 is aimed at dealing with some of these sources of obsolescence. The range and capacity to fire from a higher altitude will be slightly increased. In addition, the navigation system’s capacity to resist interference will be strengthened while homing function and target recognition will be improved. This renovation makes it possible to look ahead to the withdrawal of the SCALP/Storm Shadow missiles by 2032.
52.With regard to the renewal of anti-ship capacity, it is clear that the timetables of both countries are also converging, despite the existence of a missile gap for the United Kingdom.
53.The Exocet missile, which equips the French navy with three versions - seato-sea, air-to-sea and sub-sea - currently suffer from several operational shortcomings. Not only are current stocks relatively low, the Exocet missile’s speed remains subsonic, while its range is limited to a few tens of kilometres.
54.However, the latest model of the sea-to-sea version of the missile (MM 40 Block 3) has improved overall performance by enabling, through the use of a turbojet engine, a firing range of 180 kilometres and a transonic velocity (Mach 0.9). Starting in 2019, a new version with a more precise homing missile for improved target acquisition, and more resilient to adverse interference, will be rolled out. This future missile, called MM40 Block 3C, will guarantee its holders the ability to respond to the evolution of the threat over the next ten to fifteen years. In addition, France’s Military Programme Law 2019–2025 has planned obsolescence management work on the air-to-sea and sub-sea versions of Exocet to maintain this missile generation until the 2030s.
55.Like the Exocet family, the Harpoon missile system operated by the British forces is nearing the end of its life. The Harpoon is no longer used by the Royal Air Force and its withdrawal from service by the Royal Navy is due to take place in 2023. The UK will therefore face a “capability gap” in their heavy anti-ship capacity between 2023 and 2030, albeit from 2023 the UK will be able to deploy the new Sea Venom lightweight anti-ship missile. The issues facing the UK regarding this capability gap and the factors it needs to weigh up in deciding how to fill the gap are considered in Chapter Three of this report.
56.The FC/ASW programme makes it possible to envisage a qualitative leap for French and UK anti-ship and deep strike capabilities. The studies currently underway, as part of the concept phase, are aimed at defining the main improvements expected from the FC/ASW programme over current capabilities. This should, hopefully, then enable precise performance to be achieved in terms of scope, survivability and connectivity.
57.However, to achieve this, a major innovative effort will need to be made to ensure that the technologies necessary for the performance sought in this programme can be developed. Listed below are a number of operational and technical developments that could be considered by the programme within the concept phase.
58.The increase in range is a way of reducing the exposure of the missile launch platform on which the personnel deployed in operations are stationed. The “first” entry into the theatre of operations can then be performed, no longer by the platform, but directly by the missile - ultimately resulting in better protection for service personnel.
59.Currently, according to the information available, the Exocet MM40 missile offers a range of 72 km for Block 2 and more than 180 km for Block 3, as compared to 125 km for the sea-to-sea version of Harpoon and 300 km for the Harpoon Block 2.
As to the SCALP/Storm Shadow missiles, they have a range of around 400 km. The spread of air defence systems could lead to an increase in the range to reach approximately one thousand kilometres.
60.Increasing the range would require work on air propulsion technologies in relation to other missile features such as the weight of the military payload.
61.Survivability refers to a missile’s ability to “survive” the enemy defences and reach its target. It is the direct response to the development of A2/AD systems and, for this reason, the guarantee that strategic superiority will be maintained over the theatres of operations. Survivability can come from different types of performance: stealth, speed or manoeuvrability.
a)Stealth is the quality that reduces the distance at which a missile is detected by enemy defences. It results from techniques and technologies aimed at reducing the waves emitted or reflected by a missile. Faced with the progression in radar technologies, the challenge today is to broaden the frequency band in which stealth is secured. British industrial players boast real expertise in this area.
b)Speed can ensure the survivability of a missile by limiting the reaction time of the enemy defences and France has invested heavily in the field of hypervelocity due to the choices made in the context of nuclear deterrence. Today, French and British capacities have a speed which, by approaching Mach 0.8 or 0.9 (990 to 1,100 km/h), approach the speed of sound without reaching it. Some nations already have supersonic capabilities and are working to move beyond this stage and reach speeds above Mach 4 (4,940 km/h) or Mach 5 (6,170 km/h). Addressing the French Parliamentarians, Mr Philippe Duhamel, Thalès’ Deputy General Manager for “Defence Mission Systems”, even discussed the possibility that, under the FC/ASW programme, France and the UnitedKingdom could decide to aim for Mach 7 (8,640 km/h).
However, achieving this performance requires technological progress in terms of supersonic technology. In order to increase the heat of the engine and, as a result, increase the speed of the missile, better control of high temperature materials is needed. In addition, work carried out in partnership with the National Office for Aerospace Studies and Research (ONERA) will improve the internal and external aerodynamics of the missile, namely air flow in the combustion chamber and air friction on the surface of the missile.
c)Manoeuvrability refers to the resistance of the missile to interception during its journey. It is the feature that ensures the survival of the missile as a last resort, when it has been detected and has become subject to enemy countermeasures. The FC/ASW programme will have to be able to be more precise in the acquisition of its target and free itself from the electronic counter-measures that could interfere with the missile’s navigation system.
62.The improvement of these performances presupposes an improvement in the terminal guidance, i.e. the ultimate phase of navigation during which the homing missile closes with its target. The studies underway will make it possible to distinguish between the possible guidance methods (electromagnetic, optical, bimodal) according to the maturity of the technologies, the operational need and the cost.
63.In order to equip the FC/ASW with a suitable terminal guidance mode, significant progress is expected on the homing missiles, in particular regarding the Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) imaging radar. France and the United Kingdom both have an industrial sector that masters these technologies and has demonstrated its excellence on several occasions on previous missile programmes. This work on the performance of the FC/ASW homing missile assumes that both countries commit to a high level of information-sharing, while ensuring that they maintain their respective know how.
64.Analysis of the operational requirement has brought out, in particular, the need for the homing system to be resistant to different environments. For example, optical homing can be a limiting factor because of weather conditions and the technical characteristics of the missiles, particularly in terms of speed. Consequently, in order to overcome the limits of each mode and to improve the performance of the homing system, the FC/ASW could be equipped with a multimode homing system, which could combine a passive or active radar homing mode, with an infra-red solution.
65.Due to the consistency of action and the responsiveness it offers to the armed forces, connectivity between people, carriers and weapons systems will be decisive in the battles of tomorrow. The FC/ASW thus aims to be integrated into a global architecture, so that it can be used in conjunction with the other components of the same combat system.
66.Today, most missiles are programmed before launch: after firing, the target can no longer be changed. On some systems the launch platform can nevertheless continue to transmit information after firing in order to change the targets during navigation. In the future, networking will enable all components of the combat system, and not just the launcher, to re-programme the missile in flight if necessary. This capacity has become essential to carry out anti-ship and SEAD missions.
67.This is because FC/ASW is intended to be part of the architecture of the weapon systems of the future - characterised, under the influence of the digital revolution, as “collaborative combat”. The development of these integrated systems is now being driven with strong determination on the part of both countries. France, for example, has agreed to jointly develop a Future Combat Air System programme with Germany, while the UK announced, on 16 July 2018, the launch of its own Future Combat Air System (FCAS) project, the Tempest programme. While both France and the UK may continue to develop their separate FCAS projects, the work undertaken together, particularly in the field of drones, will require continued close cooperation in order to ensure the compatibility and inter-operability of future systems.
68.Thanks to these weapons systems of the future, the French and British forces will be better equipped to respond to the intensification of threats and the existence of more agile enemies. The interconnection of the naval and air platforms will enable FC/ASW to network with all the sensors of future combat systems. When a sensor detects a threat, the missile’s targeting will adjust in real time, increasing the force’s responsiveness.
69.In order to produce this integration into combat systems, the data links and connectivity need to be developed, making sure that they cannot be jammed. The system will also have to be employable in a less sophisticated manner, allowing for example strike on sight in the event of a loss of connectivity, regardless of the reason.
70.While all of these performance options are currently being considered by the two countries, the final choices will not be made until the end of the concept phase, scheduled for 2020.
71.As outlined in Chapter One, the launch of the FC/ASW programme dates back to the signing of the Lancaster House Treaty on 2 November 2010. Since then, each summit has seen both countries reassert their support for this programme.
At the latest Sandhurst Summit on January 18, 2018, both Governments stated that they would “Continue the FC/ASW design phase to determine the optimal combination of solutions to replace our anti-ship missiles and cruise missiles”.
72.It is worth noting, however, that the procurement process in each country, is subject to different procedures and rules.In France, the conduct of arms programmes is set out in a ministerial directive.The United Kingdom’s acquisition policy is set according to: the “Concept, Assessment, Development, Manufacturing, In-service, Disposal” cycle (CADMID). Intergovernmental agreements signed at each new stage of the programme have enabled the British and French acquisition procedures to be reconciled.
73.The overall timeline of the FC/ASW programme shows four main stages: the preliminary study (2011–2014), the concept study (2017–2020), the design phase (2020–2024) and the development and production phase (2024–2030).
Box 4: Overall FC/ASW programme calendar
74.Following the launch of the FC/ASW programme at Lancaster House, France and the United Kingdom concluded a technical study in November 2011, which launched the preliminary study in partnership with MBDA.
Box 5: The Perseus Concept
At regular intervals, MBDA launches a call for ideas on a specific topic to which teams of young employees from all the countries in which MBDA operates respond. Through an internal assessment process, an idea is selected - called a “concept vision” - which is presented at the Euronaval Fair and to which MBDA grants resources so that it can develop.
In 2011, the project presented, named Perseus, was a supersonic, stealthy and highly manoeuvrable missile intended to replace the Harpoon and Exocet missiles as well as the SCALP/Storm Shadow.
Speaking to the joint inquiry evidence session in Paris, Antoine Bouvier explained that Perseus was simply a concept study that had resulted from six months of work carried out by a team of ten young people. He argued that Perseus “could no longer be compared to the system being discussed today in terms of budget and technical studies”.
75.The aim of this first study was to refine the operational needs of the two countries and to identify, in broad terms, the missile concepts likely to meet them. It implied the exchange of sensitive data between the two countries, with an increasing level of sensitivity in the information exchanged over time.
76.The preliminary study, which ended in 2014, made it possible to measure the high degree of convergence by defining each country’s operational need. Given the common operational requirements, at the Amiens summit on 3 March 2016 both Governments declared their intention of continuing the FC/ASW programme.
77.Following the declaration of intent of the Amiens Summit, the FC/ASW programme reached a new stage with the launch of the concept phase as part of an agreement between the two governments, announced on 28 March 2017. The contract was signed with MBDA on 31 March 2017.
78.Costing €100 million, funded equally by France and the United Kingdom, the contract signed with MBDA is intended to extend over a period of up to 36 months. This contract is monitored by a joint project team set up by the Direction Générale de l’Armement [DGA] and its British counterpart, Defence Equipment and Support [DE&S].
79.The concept study is aimed at deepening the understanding of the possibilities offered by each of the missile architectures with regard to the two countries’ operational needs. Beyond the intrinsic capabilities of the missile in terms of stealth or speed, the armed forces need an effective weapon that is capable of reaching its target. This has meant testing the different missile concepts within different employment scenarios.
80.Overall, there have been two main tranches of the concept phase’s work:
i)One 18-month tranche, comprising two stages:
ii)One instalment of 21 months during which more in-depth studies are conducted on the concepts selected during the main architectural review and certain technological risks are identified.
81.Ultimately, the concept study, which is scheduled to end in 2020, should make it possible to identify one or more solutions capable of meeting the requirements expressed by France and the United Kingdom. Beyond their ability to meet the operational requirements of both countries, the solutions will be selected on the basis of acquisition cost and the credibility of the implementation timetable. It should be reiterated that the final choice will not necessarily rest on a single vector but could be based on a family of vectors making it possible, separately, to secure the anti-ship capacity and suppression of air defences on the one hand, and the capacity for deep strike on the other.
82.In parallel, the concept study will also make it possible to establish the road maps for maturing the technologies required to ensure the development of the various solutions selected.
83.At the end of the concept study, the French and British authorities will have to come down in favour of one or more systems that will enter the design phase. Scheduled to start in 2020, the design phase, during which missile prototypes will be developed, is expected to last until 2024. Subsequently, the development and production of FC/ASW is expected to be launched in 2024, so that the current weapons systems can be replaced by 2030.
84.The continuation of the FC/ASW programme beyond the concept phase will require, after 2020, that new bilateral agreements be concluded between France and the United Kingdom. For political momentum around this programme to be sustained, the two countries’ ability to resolve certain outstanding issues will undoubtedly be essential. These issues are discussed in the next chapter of this report.
10 This was the CASOM (Conventional Armed Stand-off Missile) call for tenders.
11 J-P. Devaux and R. Ford (September 2018), Scalp EG/Storm Shadow: les leçons d’une coopération à succès, recherches & documents, Fondation pour la Recherche Stratégique, no. 09/2018.
12 J-P. Devaux and R. Ford (September 2018), , recherches & documents, Fondation pour la Recherche Stratégique, no. 09/2018.
13 It was in this manner that France and the United Kingdom were brought into the launch of the METEOR long-range air-to-air missile programme with four other European nations (Germany, Spain, Italy, Sweden) in the early 2000s. Subsequently, the United Kingdom joined the cooperation initiated by France and Italy on ground-to-air defence systems based on the ASTER ground-to-air missile.
14 The contract decision was announced on 26 March 2014, see: MBDA (27 March 2014), Press Release:
15 On 17 May 2018, the British Defence Minister, Mr Gavin Williamson, and the Minister of the Armed Forces, Mrs Florence Parly, also welcomed the success of a second test blast, carried out on 18 April 2018 from a Panther-type test bench helicopter of the DGA In-Flight Tests Division on an at-sea target, off Île du Levant (Var, France).
16 For example, on 29 March 2018, the General Delegate for Armaments, Mr Joël Barre, received his British counterpart, the Minister for Defence Acquisitions, Mr Guto Bebb.
18 S.B.H. Faure (2019), Franco-British Defence Co-operation in the Context of Brexit, in, R. Johnson and J.H. Matlary (eds.), The United Kingdom’s Defence After Brexit: Britain’s Alliances, Coalitions & Partnerships, Palgrave Macmillan, p.111
19 HM Government (2 November 2010),
20 HM Government (2 November 2010),
21 This mutual dependence nevertheless allows each country to maintain a certain level of autonomy. It must not be conceived of as irreversible.
22 The intergovernmental agreement came into effect in 2016 after ratification by the United Kingdom and France. In France, the law of 7 October 2016 authorised the approval of the agreement between the Government of the French Republic and the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland on centres of excellence, implemented further to the strategy to rationalise the missile systems sector.
24 The Revue stratégique de 2017 in France and National security strategy and strategic defence and security review 2015 and National Security Capability Review 2018 in the United Kingdom.
25 Of course, a terrorist or proto-state threat will continue to fuel asymmetric conflicts. Since the creation of al-Qaeda in 1987, the terrorist threat has continuously developed, leading to an increase in the number of terrorist groups operating across increasingly vast expanses. In the face of these enemies taking position for the long-term, the French and British conventional forces will still have to run actions at the “bottom of the spectrum”, without any real challenge to Western supremacy.
26 M. Lubell and L. Barrington (10 February 2018), Israeli jet shot down after bombing Iranian site in Syria, Reuters,
27 These target in particular Chinese Chengdu J-20 or Russian Sukhoi Su-57 aircraft.
29 France has one aircraft carrier, Charles de Gaulle. The UK will have two in service by 2023: HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales.
31 In view of these three capacities – the capacity to fight ships, the destruction of enemy air defences and the capacity to conduct deep strikes – the question can also be raised as to the relevance of the name chosen for this programme. In reality, SEAD capacity is not clearly identified, which is regrettable and could be remedied, if necessary, when the development phase is launched.
32 There are two sea-to-sea versions of the Exocet missile: the sea-to-sea 38 (MM38), which is no longer manufactured, and the sea-to-sea 40 (MM40), which now equips the French forces. Several generations of MM40 have emerged: Block 1, Block 2 and, most recently, Block 3.
33 The British operate the sea-to-sea version of Harpoon: Roof Guided-Missile-84 (RGM-84). Two generations of this version of the Harpoon came into service: Block 1 and Block 2.
34 For an in-depth analysis of these subjects, see the Assemblée nationale’s Standing Committee on National Defence and the Armed Forces information report on the challenges of digitising the armies, presented by Olivier Becht and Thomas Gassilloud on 30 May 2018:
35 Our two countries’ commitment to continuing the FC/ASW programme was thus reiterated at the Elysée Summit of 17 February 2012, the Brize Norton Summit of 31 January 2014, the Amiens Summit of 3 March 2016 and the Sandhurst Summit of 18 January 2018.
37 For example, General Order No. 1516 on the conduct and implementation of weapons operations as at 26 March 2010.
39 Two study contracts were concluded in 2012 to enable an exchange of information relating in particular to enemy capacities, the finest possible knowledge of which is essential for defining the operational need.
40 On 28 March 2017, the General Delegate for Armament, Mr Laurent Collet-Billon, and his British counterpart, the Minister for Defence Acquisitions, Mrs Harriett Baldwin, signed an agreement in London on the study of future missile technologies carried out by MBDA.
41 This phase will begin three months before the end of the previous tranche.
Published: 12 December 2018