The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) and France's Direction Générale de l'Armement (DGA) have launched the next phase of their £117m joint maritime mine countermeasures (MMCM) programme.
The MMCM programme is part of the Lancaster House Treaty, which was reached in 2010 to boost the bilateral cooperation between the UK and France to improve collective defence capability within Europe and Nato.
The programme is aimed at demonstrating the feasibility of using remotely operated, unmanned marine vehicles and sensors to detect and dispose of sea-mines threat while enhancing the maritime capability.
UK Minister for Defence Procurement Harriett Baldwin said: “This innovative project further strengthens the UK-French defence relationship and supports cutting-edge research on both sides of the Channel.
“The development of advanced autonomous mine countermeasures capability will safeguard our strategic interests, secure around 150 jobs in the UK supply chain, and protect our brave and skilled personnel.”
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Under the programme, the first prototype is expected to be delivered to the navies of the UK and France in 2019.
The joint programme will be led by defence company Thales and will build on the expertise of companies from both the nations.
UK and France will share the cost incurred during the development programme and will share the export opportunities generated by the development of new technologies.
Commenting on the MCMM programme, French DGA head Laurent Collet-Billon said: “It is a step further in the accomplishment of the strategy initiated since the Lancaster House Summit in 2010 aimed at strengthening the effectiveness and operational interoperability of our mine warfare systems, and to support the excellence of the Franco-British industrial base.”
Image: Thales Halcyon craft. Photo: © Thales.