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Agreements to Enhance U.S., British Forces Interoperability

By John D. Banusiewicz
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 26, 2006 – The United States and Great Britain are increasing the scope and breadth of their intelligence and military cooperation, President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair announced in a joint statement issued by the White House today.

"The two leaders are pleased to announce that the United States and United Kingdom recently signed an agreement that allows appropriately cleared British and U.S. personnel to use the same computer network to access military and intelligence information and other planning tools to support joint military operations in the defense of freedom," the statement said.

Another agreement announced in the statement holds that the United Kingdom will have the ability to operate, upgrade, employ and maintain the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter "such that the U.K. retains operational sovereignty over the aircraft," and that both governments agree to protect sensitive JSF program technologies. "Together, we are working out the details," the statement said, "while remaining committed to these principles."

The F-35 program represents the U.S. Defense Department's effort for affordable next-generation strike aircraft weapon systems for the Navy, Air Force, Marines and U.S. allies. Along with the United States and the United Kingdom, seven other nations are partners in the F-35's system development and demonstration phase: Italy, the Netherlands, Turkey, Canada, Denmark, Norway and Australia. Israel and Singapore have agreed to join the program as security cooperation participants.

Bush and Blair "have a shared view that we need to continue to strengthen and deepen the relationship between our defense establishments to achieve fully interoperable forces and to leverage the respective strengths of U.S. and U.K. industries," today's joint statement said.

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