France, U.K. Launch Next-Generation Strike Missile Project with MBDA
LONDON — The United Kingdom and France have signed an agreement to launch a joint concept phase of the Future Cruise/Anti-Ship Weapon (FC/ASW) program with MBDA. The agreement was signed by Laurent Collet-Billon, head of France’s Defense Procurement Agency (DGA, or Direction générale de l’armement), and Harriet Baldwin, U.K. Minister of Defence Procurement.
Running for up to three years, the aim of the concept phase is to lay the ground work and inform each country’s decision making and requirements for a potential follow-on assessment and demonstration phase of the next generation of cruise and anti-ship missiles, with a planned operational capability to be achieved by the end of the next decade.
Valued at 100 million Euro ($108.7 million), work on the FC/ASW concept phase will be split 50/50 in terms of both quantity and quality of content between the United Kingdom and France. The effort will see MBDA mature systems and technologies that will increase the survivability, range and lethality of anti-ship and deep-strike missiles launched by both air and naval combat platforms. The DGA will act as the contract authority for the concept phase with MBDA.
Equally funded by France and the United Kingdom, the FC/ASW program is a product of the very close Anglo-French defense relationship set out by the Lancaster House treaties. The FC/ASW Concept Phase is the latest step in the two countries’ highly successful collaboration on missile technologies through MBDA. This joint work has allowed the two countries to develop a range of world-class missile systems, such as Storm Shadow/SCALP, Meteor, Aster and Sea Venom/ANL; to rationalize the development and production of missiles through the “OneMBDA” organization; and to harmonize the research and technology efforts of both nations across their entire missile industrial sector through the Missile Components and Materials–Innovation and Technology Partnership program.
“Our relationship with France is strong and enduring,” Baldwin said. “We have a long history of cooperation in defense and security with our European ally. As demonstrated by having Europe’s largest defense budget, the U.K. is committed to European security and we will continue to collaborate on joint defense programs across the continent. Today’s agreement will sustain 80 jobs in the U.K.”
“We are launching today a major new phase in our bilateral cooperation, by planning together a generation of missiles, successor to the Exocet, Harpoon, SCALP and Storm Shadow,” Collet-Billon said. “The FC/ASW program’s aim is to have by around 2030 a new generation of missiles. This future capability is strategic, industrially as well as operationally. This new program will be the backbone of our 'One Complex Weapons' initiative.”
The concept phase of the FC/ASW program aims at identifying solutions for the replacement of the two countries’ Storm Shadow/SCALP cruise missiles, France’s Exocet and the U.K.’s Harpoon anti-ship missiles. The concept phase builds on a previous joint study phase initiated by both nations in 2011.