UK Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson and French Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly have signed a technical agreement for the exchange of test pilots between the two countries.

The agreement was signed during the first Defence Ministerial Council held since the announcement of a permanent and regular forum for the discussion of defence cooperation between the UK and France in January 2018.

Under the agreement, French pilots would receive training at the UK Empire Test Pilots’ School (ETPS) based at MoD Boscombe Down air station.

“By participating in this exchange programme, we will strengthen understanding between our personnel.”

British pilots would be trained at the Ecole du Personnel Navigant d’Essais et de Reception based on the Istres Le Tube Airbase in France.

The exchange of pilots will ensure that the skills of military flight test, analysis and capability enhancement are shared between the armed forces of the two nations.

This will help bolster cooperation between the UK and France and strengthen collaboration between the armed forces.

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Williamson said: “France is one of our most important allies and this agreement symbolises the importance of deep defence and security relationships. By participating in this exchange programme, 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.”

In addition, the partner nations are jointly developing advanced defence capability projects and strengthening links across the armed forces.