The UK and French governments have signed a memorandum of understanding to share the costs of designing a new aircraft carrier.
The MOU was signed in Innsbruck by UK Defence Secretary John Reid, and French Defence Minister Madame Michele Alliot-Marie, during an informal meeting of EU defence ministers.
The Carrier project will provide the UK Armed forces with the largest and most powerful warships ever constructed in the UK. The Future Carrier (CVF) will replace the current Invincible class of aircraft carrier.
Under the terms of the MOU, UK and France will co-operate on the demonstration phase work to produce a Common Baseline Design that will meet requirements for CVF and French requirements for its carrier, PA2. It is also intended to identify shared procurement opportunities.
France has agreed to pay an initial fee of £100M in three stages, in recognition of the investment already made by the UK in the design of the ships. The phasing is £30m now and £25m in July. The final £45M will be conditional on a final French decision to commit to manufacturing the carriers. France will also contribute one third of the demonstration phase costs of the common baseline design.
Reid said, “Co-operation between our two countries on our future aircraft carriers is of key importance, and the signing of this agreement today is a major step that launches our cooperation on future aircraft carriers for the next 12 months.
“In the current security environment, we must ensure that our forces have the right tools to do the jobs which we ask of them. France and the UK are working in partnership across a range of systems, which will bring benefits not only to the Armed Forces of both countries, but also to our industrial bases, economies and, therefore, to our populations.”