Analyses & Studies

Defence collaboration: Britain and France renew minehunting programme

On the tenth anniversary of Lancaster House, the UK and France reaffirmed their long-standing defence relationship by committing to a joint programme for Autonomous Minehunting Systems that will detect and neutralise mines around the world.

Speaking at the Franco-British Council Defence Conference, UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace announced a £184 million investment in the joint Maritime Mine Counter Measure (MMCM) programme, which will create new systems to combat sea mines and keep ships and personnel away from danger.

The programme will be delivered by Thales UK, supporting 215 jobs across the UK at Thales sites in Somerset and Plymouth, as well as in the wider supply chain, including L3 Harris in Portsmouth, Stonehaven in Aberdeenshire and Alba Ultrasound in Glasgow.

‘This contract represents the next generation for Anglo-French minehunting, delivering a world leading capability that will keep our armed forces safe and create and secure vital jobs across the UK and our supply chain,’ says Alex Cresswell, CEO of Thales UK.

Following the first phase of the program in which two demonstrators have successfully proven their operational performances at sea, France and the United Kingdom signed a joint contract for Thales to start the production phase of MMCM to deliver eight unmanned mine hunting systems – four for France and four for the United Kingdom.

With the threat of mines and improvised explosive devices present in all conflicts involving naval forces, countries need to strengthen the protection of their maritime domain, to ensure the protection of their assets and to safeguard the freedom of civil navigation.

The announcement was made at this year’s virtual Franco-British Council Defence Conference, which also featured French defence minister Florence Parly, Chief of the Defence Staff General Sir Nick Carter and his French counterpart Ched d’État-Major des Armées François Lecointre.

November this year marked the 10th anniversary of the historic Lancaster House treaties on defence, security and nuclear cooperation between the UK and France. The historic commitment has established a long-term partnership between the two countries and includes the fully operational Combined Joint Expeditionary Force (CJEF) – a force able to rapidly deploy over 10,000 personnel in response to a crisis.

Both nations are deployed around the world together in places such as the Middle East combating Daesh and in Estonia as part of NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence. In Mali, three RAF Chinooks and 100 UK personnel are deployed in a non-combat role in support of French counter-extremist operations.


For more information about the Franco-British Defence Conference 2020 please visit the Franco-British Council.

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