Britain and Australia to boost defence ties

LONDON Fri Jan 18, 2013 12:03am GMT

The Ministry of Defence building is seen in London, September 15, 2010. REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett

The Ministry of Defence building is seen in London, September 15, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Suzanne Plunkett

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

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond was expected to sign a defence treaty with Australian Defence 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 defence spending as part of efforts to reduce a big budget deficit, and hopes that collaborating with allies on equipment and other defence projects will help cut costs.

"In times of budget pressures for all nations, it makes sense to maximise 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)

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