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MILITARY

France signs deal with UK for anti-ship missiles

Britain and France will develop new anti-ship missiles in a €600-million ($830 million) project that stems from a major defence cooperation agreement, Britain's Ministry of Defence said on Thursday.

France signs deal with UK for anti-ship missiles
Britain and France have signed a deal for anti-ship missiles. Photo: AFP

Britain and France will develop new anti-ship missiles in a €600-million project that stems from a major defence cooperation agreement, Britain's Ministry of Defence said Thursday.

The multi-national group MBDA has been awarded the contract to produce the helicopter-mounted missiles, which use sophisticated homing technology to attack small and medium-sized targets.

The Royal Navy will use them on its new Wildcat helicopters.

The deal is the first collaborative project announced since an Anglo-French summit held at RAF Brize Norton airbase in late January between Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Francois Hollande.

Britain hailed the deal as "a significant step in joint working on complex weapons between the two nations".

MBDA chief executive Antoine Bouvier said the deal "takes us into a new era of cooperation which will allow us to make significant savings in future programmes".

The group brings together British defence group BAE Systems, the European group Airbus and Finmeccanica of Italy.

Britain's Defence Secretary Philip Hammond and his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian signed an outline agreement for the project at the Brize Norton summit.

But the deal is part of a wider programme of defence cooperation announced by Cameron and then-French president Nicolas Sarkozy at a summit in London in November 2010.

Under the Lancaster House agreement, Europe's two biggest militaries agreed to cooperate on joint projects to increase efficiency and seek savings.

The British government has slashed its defence budget as part of its programme of cuts in public spending.

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MILITARY

France vows to stay in Syria even after US leaves

France will maintain its participation in the coalition fighting Islamic State forces in Syria, government officials said Thursday after President Donald Trump surprised Washington's allies by ordering US troops home.

France vows to stay in Syria even after US leaves
Photo: AFP
“For now of course we remain in Syria,” France's European Affairs Minister Nathalie Loiseau said on CNews television, adding “the fight against terrorism is not over.”
   
“It's true that the coalition has made significant progress in Syria, but this fight continues, and we will continue it,” she said.
   
France has stationed fighter jets in Jordan and artillery along the Syrian border in Iraq as part of the US-led coalition, as well as an undisclosed number of special forces on the ground.
 
On Wednesday Trump said in a Twitter video that “We've won against ISIS,” another acronym for the Islamic State group, and that it was time to bring the roughly 2,000 US soldiers fighting the jihadists home.
   
It was a stunning reversal of a US policy which had vowed its support for Kurdish allies who have been key fighters against IS forces in Syria.
 
Its allies have warned that despite losing most of the territory it once controlled during the bloody Syrian civil war, the IS threat has not been totally eradicated.
   
French Defence Minister Florence Parly said on Twitter Thursday that the group “has not been wiped of the map, nor have its roots.”
 
“We must definitively defeat the last pockets of this terrorist organisation,” she said.
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