John Lichfield and Nigel Morris
February 17, 2012
Plans to build a new generation of “fighter drones” that can wage war by remote control are set to be agreed today by Britain and France. David Cameron and President Nicolas Sarkozy are preparing to put their recent tensions behind them to launch proposals for the pilotless stealth aircraft at a summit in Paris. In a second agreement, they will promise closer co-operation on civil nuclear power.
Western nations increasingly regard the deployment of drones to launch surgical strikes on targets as a way of keeping military casualties to a minimum.
Several senior al-Qa’ida figures have been killed by unmanned American drones flying over Pakistan, while British drone missions could begin within months over Afghanistan. Critics claim the aircraft can cause “collateral damage” among civilians and that the low risk to service personnel from their use can encourage countries to turn to military force rather than diplomacy.
… Under the agreement, British and French public and private sector bodies in the civil nuclear power industry will work more closely on education and training, research and development and security. The two sets of ministers will also discuss cooperation in transport. Mr Cameron last night stressed the “strength and depth of Britain’s ties with France”. He said: “Our commercial relationship is deep and growing with exports increasing and French investment sustaining almost 10,000 jobs in the UK. Our militaries are working together on cutting-edge military technology. This relationship is vital for the national security and the prosperity of both Britain and France.”