Britain and Australia to boost defense ties

Thu Jan 17, 2013 7:47pm EST
 

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain and Australia will increase ties on defense issues including cyber security and equipment programs such as the BAE Systems-built Type 26 frigate, the British defense ministry said on Friday.

Defense Secretary Philip Hammond was expected to sign a defense treaty with Australian Defense Minister Stephen Smith in the Australian city of Perth later on Friday, in which both countries will agree to explore collaborating on the Type 26.

Britain has slashed defense spending as part of efforts to reduce a big budget deficit, and hopes that collaborating with allies on equipment and other defense projects will help cut costs.

"In times of budget pressures for all nations, it makes sense to maximize economies of scale and work with our friends to get the best value for money on all sides," Hammond said in a statement.

Britain expects to order 13 Type 26 warships, a vessel it says will be the "backbone and workhorse" of its navy, for delivery in the early 2020s, but the final number of vessels will not be decided until around 2015.

(Reporting by Mohammed Abbas; Editing by Mark Heinrich)