UK and France to run test pilot exchange program


Caption: Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson and French Minister of the Armed Forces Mme Florence Parly (Image: Crown copyright)

The UK and France have formalized a test pilot exchange program at the two countries’ first regular forum for defense cooperation.

UK defence secretary Gavin Williamson and the French minister of the armed forces Mme Florence Parly signed the bespoke technical arrangement which will oversee the exchange of test pilots last week at the first Defence Ministerial Council, a permanent and regular forum that was first announced in January 2018.

The agreement formalizes an exchange that enables French pilots to train at the UK Empire Test Pilots’ School, which is based at Minsitry of Defence (MoD) Boscombe Down, and British pilots to train at the French Test Pilots’ School, Ecole du Personnel Navigant d’Essais et de Reception, which is based at the Istres Le Tube Airbase.

The reciprocal exchange of personnel will ensure that the skills of military flight test, analysis and capability enhancement are shared between the two nations and will strengthen the partnership between the two countries armed forces, said the MoD.

Gavin Williamson said, “This agreement symbolizes the importance of deep defense and security relationships. By participating in this exchange program, we will strengthen understanding between our personnel.

“We are the only two European powers willing and able to deploy and sustain significant military power and we will continue to work towards a special partnership for the future.”

The two nations are jointly developing defense capability projects and deepening links across their Armed Forces, in several areas said the MoD.

For example, the UK and France have recently successfully carried out the second development firing of the Sea Venom missile for use by Royal Navy and French Navy helicopters. The Sea Venom is used against surface threats, such as fast inshore attack craft up to corvette-sized vessels, and can be used in coastal environments.

May 21, 2018


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Ben has worked all of his career as a journalist and now editor, covering almost all aspects of technology, engineering and industry. In the last 16 years he has written on subjects from nuclear submarines and autonomous cars to future design and manufacturing technologies and commercial aviation. Latterly editor of a leading engineering magazine, he brings an eye for a great story and lots of experience to the team.

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