France has joined a multinational effort to cooperate on the development of Maritime Unmanned Systems.
At a signing ceremony at NATO Headquarters in Brussels, National Armaments Directors from Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States welcomed France to this key multinational initiative.
According to NATO, the project was launched in October 2018 through the signature of a letter of intent by 13 Allied Defence Ministers (Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States) to support the implementation of NATO’s reinforced maritime posture, as endorsed by Allied leaders at the 2018 Brussels Summit.
The ceremony, image via NATO.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, Assistant Secretary General for Defence Investment Camille Grand was quoted as saying:
“Maritime unmanned systems will play a central role in future naval operations, where they will serve as a force multiplier by augmenting traditional, manned naval assets. They are expected to deliver significant benefits for detecting and clearing mines, as well as finding and tracking submarines.”

Assistant Secretary General Grand added:

“Today, we are operating crew-dependent platforms with constrained operational awareness, but tomorrow we will increasingly use integrated autonomous systems, able to work together and complement existing manned platforms.”

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This may be controversial but our carriers supported by T45, T26 etc. and 50 odd autonomous armed systems sounds about right.

Geoffrey Hicking

It solves the mass problem at least!


The inclusion of Turkey in that list makes me feel uncomfortable. I appreciate that they are part of NATO, but that in itself I also find disconcerting. On the other hand, I do think this is a movement in the right direction, and I hope it will be used to increase the numbers of our under water assets.


I do not think Turkey should be part of NATO.

Fair enough, build close ties – but they have proven with their recent procurement of certain systems and their refusal to see the bigger picture, that they are not trust worthy partners.

If the decision was up to me they would not get a single F35 air frame & zero F35 related work full stop. If that delays deliveries while alternate supply chains are implemented then so be it.


Would this not just push them under the influence of Russia? I can’t see the benefit of that.


As opposed to them not being under the influence of Russia now?

See my first comment… close ties yes, a partner nation – I do not see the benefit.

As for the F35 deal I wouldn’t let them anywhere near it. Period. Bear in mind it is designed in it’s main function to defeat primarily Russian & Chinese air defence & fast jet systems which are the only plausible near peer nations that the US would find themselves in a shooting war with.

They are already leaning towards Russia, otherwise they would have re-considered their position.


I take your point about the F35s & limiting access to new tech however at the moment they (at worst) have a foot in both camps. A stronger alliance with Russia could see Russian troops on the Greek border forcing NATO to act. All we would have achieved is to effectively lose territory. Is it not possible the current issue in Turkey might resolve itself? Let’s just restrict Turkey’s access to certain programmes.


They are praying one off against the other to increase real of perception of their own importance. Russia and Turkey are two very old enemies And will never trust each other but both benefit from playing these games of apparent cooperation to put pressure on others and increase bargaining positions especially concerning the extra territorial activities and manipulations of them both which as in Syria can be beneficial to each’s strategy. Uneasy ally as it is probably self defeating at this stage to throw them out.

Daniele Mandelli

I agree.


Interesting replies, thank you all. I don’t have the answer to this, will be interesting to see how America responds. One of the main issues with Turkey is it’s geography and current political climate. Various areas of the middle East are very unstable making it possible that NATO could be drawn into a religiously sectarian middle Eastern war via Turkey. America used article 5 after the twin tower attacks to justify collective retaliation, what happens if turkey does the same against the Kurdish people in northern Syria (for example). Personally I’d rather we stayed a million miles away from the… Read more »


I don’t see any NATO member being willing to join any collective action initiated on those grounds by Turkey. Turkey has few allies within NATO and any prospective Turkish action against the Kurds considering their dominant role defeating ISIS would put even that tolerance under intense strain even if I fear there would be no real attempt to thwart it. Erdogan however, especially if under pressure from within as is beginning to threaten him, is a scary unpredictable figure and might well manipulate matters to try to bring internal nationalist sentiment onside and to this end to further taunt the… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli

I think that training has moved to Ascension now.

I have never seen one of these UAV flying in the SPTA airspace despite the announcement that Boscombe would be a location.

Levi Goldsteinberg

Can confirm, I live very near Boscombe Down (assuming that’s the Boscombe you’re referring to)and I have yet to see a single UAV

Daniele Mandelli

Yes it is Levi. Airspace was to be provided from SPTA down to Salisbury for the flying, there was a public consultation re assuring locals the UAV would not be spying on them in their gardens. Launches were to be from Boscombe and another “rough field” location at Upavon, where the army barracks there has a grass runway.


Software hasn’t changed since it was invented. You can test it until you are blue in the face but the real world will always come along with something unexpected. You learn and move on. This software is in its infancy and has a long way to go but it beats humans in some areas. Need to get the balance right and make the best of the huge advantages it does give.


One might have thought as a French owned company they might have learned the lesson of pitot tubes blocking up in poor weather Conditions and giving conflicting instrument indicators through software and causing a catastrophic crash as a result or don’t they talk to Airbus these days.


Honestly it was the seaweed that caused the collision.

Steve Taylor


good grief

Daniele Mandelli

I know….like the local footie team.


European NATO headquarters should be in the UK! Not Brussels!! Why hasn’t theUK got more Nato jobs when we are a key player! Is Belgium?

Captain P Wash

In my opinion, It’s a Minority thing. Those In power tend to favour the Minority lately.

Geoffrey Hicking

Just wait till the French insist it should be Strasbourg for half the year!

(oops, sorry!)

Daniele Mandelli

Don’t apologise! It is fact and it is ridiculous!

I have no problem with NATO HQ being in Belgium. Was a logical place to locate it.

The UK has always had NATO naval HQ elements at Northwood, which again is logical.

Daniele Mandelli

Historically Cam the UK has always had plenty of NATO posts, with our commanders “duel hatted” as having both a UK and a NATO command.

In the Cold War Com NORTHAG and Com 2 ATAF were always British commanded, by the commanders of BAOR and RAFG respectively.

The deputy of SACEUR was/ is British, and the main NATO Maritime Component Command is at Northwood, also with Brit commanders.