UK France war centre speeded up

Cameron nd SarkozyBritain and France have agreed to accelerate plans to create a joint control and command centre for future military operations.

Prime Minister David Cameron and French president Nicolas Sarkozy want to put in place the rapidly deployable headquarters following joint working in Libya. At a UK-France summit in Paris, the two leaders also agreed to push ahead with the next phase of plans to build a new generation of pilotless "fighter drone" aircraft.
London and Paris agreed in 2010 to work together on creating the remotely-controlled drone aircraft, known as Males (medium altitude long endurance), which will allow targeted strikes while minimising the risk to allied personnel. The agreement means the project can move on to the procurement stage.

The bilateral programme will be worked on by Britain's BAE and France's Dassault - former rivals on the Typhoon project.

Speaking alongside Mr Sarkozy at a press conference in the Elysee Palace, Mr Cameron said: "I don't think that there has been closer French-British co-operation at any time since the Second World War, not just in Libya but also on the vital issues of Syria, Iran, Somalia and defence co-operation."

The "real and substantial" co-operation on defence discussed will cover not only the new command centre and drone production, but also nuclear weapons, said the Prime Minister.

He added: "The defence co-operation is real, it is substantial, it is going to make a big difference to the military capabilities of both Britain and France. We are similar-sized powers, with similar-sized armed forces, with similar ambitions.

"It is partly about new capacity - the investment that we are going to make in a drone programme. It is also about making the most of our existing capacity, as we will be combining and using it together.

"It is also about operational capacity and ability to take action together. And it also covers the most sensitive defence areas of all, including of course the nuclear issue."

Mr Cameron said: "It is, I think, a real breakthrough that we have made over the last two years and we are determined to keep pushing this forward."

© 2012 Press Association
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