The United Kingdom and France signed an agreement to launch a $108 million three year joint concept phase of the Future Cruise/Anti-Ship Weapon (FC/ASW) program with MBDA, the company said Tuesday.
The concept phase aims to lay the groundwork and inform the U.K. and France’s decision making and requirements for a potential follow-on assessment and demonstration phase of the missiles. The FC/ASW project has a planned operational capability to be achieved by the end of the 2020s.
The concept phase is set to be split in half in terms of quantity and quality of content between the U.K. and France. This effort aims to use mature MBDA systems and technologies that will increase the survivability, range, and lethality of anti-ship and deep strike missiles launched by air and naval combat platforms, the company said. France’s Defense Procurement Agency (DGA-Direction générale de l’armement) will act as the contract authority in the first phase.
The FC/ASW program is funded equally by the U.K. and France and is a result of the Anglo-French defense relationships set out by the Lancaster House Treaties. Working through MBDA, the countries are able to rationalize the development and production of various missiles and this agreement is just their newest step, the company said.
The agreement was signed in London on Tuesday by Laurent Collet-Billon, head of the DGA and Harriet Baldwin, U.K. Minister of Defence Procurement.
Baldwin highlighted the countries’ close connections.
“Our relationship with France is strong and enduring. We have a long history of cooperation in defence and security with our European ally,” she said in a statment. “As demonstrated by having Europe’s largest defence budget, the U.K. is committed to European security and we will continue to collaborate on joint defence programmes across the continent.”
She also noted the agreement will sustain 80 U.K. jobs.
Collet-Billon underscored this missile research project is a set to planning successors to the Exocet, Harpoon, SCALP, and Storm Shadow generation of missiles.
“The FC/ASW (future cruise/anti-ship weapon) programme’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 programme will be the backbone of our “One Complex Weapons” initiative,” he said in a statement.
Antoine Bouvier, CEO of MBDA, was pleased by the agreement and how it fits into the company’s European strategy.
“Through this strategy we aim to work in even closer partnership with our domestic military customers in order to converge their requirements, while streamlining our own industrial processes across borders,” Bouvier said. “Only this form of co-operation will allow European industry to continue delivering exceptional products and sustain the long-term critical mass needed to keep providing Europe with independent access to key sovereign technologies.”
MBDA is a multi-national European defense company jointly held by AIRBUS Group (37.5 percent), Britain’s BAE Systems (37.5 percent), and Italy’s Leonardo (25 percent).