UK

10,000-Strong British And French Expeditionary Force Declared Fully Operational

The force was conceived a decade ago as part of the Lancaster House Treaties signed by David Cameron and Nicolas Sarkozy.

The Government has announced that a new 10,000-strong combined joint expeditionary force (CJEF) of British and French troops is now fully operational.

The force of British and French Paratroopers is designed to be able to deploy anywhere in the world at short notice – from combat operations to peacekeeping and disaster relief.

Next week, it comes to fruition as 2 PARA Battlegroup deploys to Salisbury Plain alongside their French counterparts on Exercise Wessex Storm.

The MOD has declared the ‘CJEF’ fully operational.

The force was one of the 10-year goals of the Lancaster House Treaties, signed by then-UK Prime Minister David Cameron and then-French president Nicolas Sarkozy, in November 2010.

Under the treaties, the UK and France, both members of the UN Security Council and with similarly sized militaries, would work together to counter shared threats.

With it would come a joint industrial capability, allowing the nations to develop their own independent weapons systems without reliance on the United States.

In Mali, three RAF Chinooks and 100 UK personnel are deployed in a non-combat role in support of French counter-extremist operations (Picture: MOD).

But a decade later, amid the backdrop of Brexit, where does the treaty stand? Are the UK and France, CJEF aside, sticking together or drifting apart?

The UK and France have worked closely together over the past 10 years – both air forces launched bombing missions over Libya in 2011.

The Brimstone missile used by the RAF in that campaign, and in large numbers against ISIS, is partly built in France.

Engineers in Bolton, meanwhile, manufacture major parts of a missile used by the French Army.

British personnel regularly serve on board the French aircraft carrier, Charles de Gaulle.

Once UK carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth is fully operational there are plans for both nations to deploy a joint carrier strike group.

In Mali, three RAF Chinooks and 100 UK personnel are deployed in a non-combat role in support of French counter-extremist operations.

Another shared venture, hailed by experts as a great success, has been the CT40 40-millimetre cannon fitted to the Warrior and Ajax vehicles used by the British Army.

Land warfare analyst Samuel Cranny-Evans told Forces News: “Development of CT40 predates Lancaster House Treaties by a fair amount, however, the production of that weapon system has been conducted under the auspices of the Lancaster House Treaty.

Once UK carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth is fully operational, there are plans for both nations to deploy a joint carrier strike group (Picture: Royal Navy).

“Incredibly successful, the first vehicles could reach their initial operational capability this year, showing really that this weapon has been successfully developed and successfully launched through joint co-operation between the UK and France.

"It also, technically speaking, will be the most lethal calibre weapon on the planet," he added.

“It’s a remarkable success story, really, for Anglo-French cooperation and the Lancaster House Treaties, I think, are a sign that that will continue.”

The Lancaster House Treaties, signed for 50 years, were originally designed to reduce costs following the financial crisis of 2008.

It could be argued, with the economic expense of COVID-19, that the UK and France now face similar fiscal challenges.

The Defence Secretary Ben Wallace says the UK and France have now met all the goals of the treaties.