UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown and French President Nicholas Sarkozy reached some significant–though little noticed–defense arrangements when they met in London late last month. The two countries agreed to seek a single joint contract for the in-service support of the Airbus A400M airlifters that both have ordered. If achieved, this will be the first such arrangement ever concluded.
The pair also said they would extend the scope of their cooperation in aircraft carriers to include operations. “A British carrier might be supported by a French frigate and vice-versa,” said a spokesman. New carriers are planned by both the UK (two) and France (one), and the pair have discussed joint purchasing of systems and subsections for the vessels. But budget concerns have delayed progress on both sides of the English Channel. Despite formally approving the Future Aircraft Carrier program last July, the UK has still not placed the main construction contract. The new French government is conducting a defense review.