UPDATE 3-UK, France sign up to closer military cooperation

* Britain and France to create joint military force

* Allies to share nuclear research facilities
* Negotiations with Airbus to support A400M transporters

(Adds Sarkozy quote, reaction)

By Adrian Croft and Emmanuel Jarry

LONDON, Nov 2 (BestGrowthStock) – Britain and France agreed on
Tuesday to set up a joint military force and share equipment and
nuclear missile research centres in what Prime Minister David
Cameron hailed as a new chapter in their relations.

Treaties signed by French President Nicolas Sarkozy and
Cameron pave the way for close military cooperation between the
neighbours, western Europe’s biggest defence spenders.

The NATO allies, Europe’s only nuclear powers, have a
centuries-old history of military rivalry and, more recently,
have differed sharply over issues such as the Iraq war.

Their new partnership is driven by the desire to maintain
cutting-edge military capabilities while at the same time
reducing defence spending to rein in big budget deficits.

The treaties create the potential for the British and French
defence industries to work together in areas such as unmanned
aerial vehicles or drones, equipment for nuclear submarines and
military satellites. The allies will work towards a “single
European prime contractor” to develop a series of new missiles.

France and Britain agreed to set up a joint force numbering
around 9,000 soldiers with air and sea support, which could
assemble as needed to take part in NATO, European Union, United
Nations or bilateral operations.

“Today, we open a new chapter in a long history of
cooperation on defence and security between Britain and France,”
Cameron said.

Cameron’s government announced two weeks ago it was cutting
Britain’s 37 billion pound ($59.4 billion) defence budget by 8
percent in real terms over the next four years to help rein in a
record peacetime budget deficit.

COOPERATING ON CARRIERS

France’s aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle and a British
carrier that is being built will be made compatible so that each
country could fly its planes off the other’s ship. The ultimate
aim is to have one carrier at sea at all times.

The treaty has provoked fears in the British press that an
effective French veto on the use of the aircraft carrier could
prevent Britain sending it to defend the Falklands Islands in
the event of a repeat of the 1982 war with Argentina.

Asked about this scenario, Sarkozy said if Britain faced a
major crisis “my first reaction would be to try to understand
why such close allies are in such serious crisis, and how we
could help them.”

Cameron, seeking to placate eurosceptics in his party
suspicious of greater European integration, said the agreement
was “not … about weakening or pooling British or French
sovereignty, this is not about a European army.”

He said he expected Washington to welcome the agreement.

The two countries agreed to share nuclear warhead research
and simulation centres.

London and Paris expect to sign a contract with Airbus by
the end of 2011 to support both countries’ future fleet of A400M
military transport planes. a summit declaration said.

Ian Godden, chairman of Britain’s ADS (Aerospace, Defence
and Security) trade group, welcomed the treaty. “The conditions
for cooperating with French industry have never been better.”

France’s Dassault Aviation (AVMD.PA: ) and Britain’s BAE
Systems (BAES.L: ) have made a joint proposal to develop unmanned
planes for the two nations, defence sources said. [nLDE6A11QR]

Defence Equipment Minister Peter Luff said separately that
Britain planned to publish a policy document next spring setting
out its defence industrial policy for the next five years.

For a factbox on the details, click on [nLDE6A11UH]
(Additional reporting by Catherine Bremer, Tim Hepher, Rhys
Jones, Keith Weir, Cyril Altmeyer; Editing by Matthew Jones)

UPDATE 3-UK, France sign up to closer military cooperation