AIRSHOW-Britain, France reaffirm commitment to joint combat drone plan

LONDON, July 15 Tue Jul 15, 2014 11:57am EDT

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LONDON, July 15 (Reuters) - Britain and France reaffirmed their commitment to a project to jointly develop a combat drone, naming companies including BAE Systems and Dassault Aviation to work on the 120 million pound ($204 million) venture.

Initially announced as part of a high-profile political summit in January, the countries signed further agreements for the two-year feasibility study into the unmanned combat air vehicles at the Farnborough Airshow on Tuesday.

BAE, Europe's largest defence company, and Dassault Aviation will be joined by Britain's Rolls Royce plus Thales France and Safran from France and Selex, the defence electronics unit of Italy's Finmeccanica, on the drone project, the two governments said.

The two countries have had plans to collaborate on drones and other military technology since signing a pact in 2010. Both already have their own drone programmes - Britain's Taranis project and France's nEUROn.

"This represents a key step in our partnership and provides a joint roadmap for cooperation between our companies that could ultimately lead to a joint Future Combat Air System programme in the future," Eric Trappier, chairman and chief executive of Dassault Aviation, and Ian King, chief executive of BAE Systems, said in a joint statement.

As part of the agreement announced on Tuesday, Britain and France also signed a memorandum of understanding on a missile programme.

($1 = 0.5877 British Pounds) (Reporting by Sarah Young; Editing by Mark Potter)

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