France and Britain on Thursday inked a deal to invest more than two billion euros in the development of combat drones and will include BAE Systems and Dassault Aviation
Following a two-year feasibility study begun in 2014, "we hope to proceed to the next phase in 2017 to prepare for the full-fledged development of operational demonstrators of air combat drones by 2025," AFP quoted the French government as saying in a statement.
"This test programme, the most advanced in Europe, will be based on a platform of multi-purpose drones that could provide the basis for future operational capacity beyond 2030," it said.
"We plan to invest more than two billion euros in this programme," it said, adding that work would be submitted to a technical review around 2020.
The British and French governments tasked BAE Systems and Dassault Aviation with the feasibility study in November 2014.
The ultimate aim is to have combat drones capable of carrying out surveillance and observation missions, identifying targets and launching strikes in enemy territory, according to the British defence ministry.
Such a drone would be tasked with entering hostile territory ahead of standard manned warplanes.
In addition to the two main groups, Rolls-Royce and Safran were assigned to work on propulsion systems while Selex ES and Thales was put in charge of electronics and sensors.