Britain and France are to sign far-reaching defence treaties on Tuesday that will see military co-operation between the two countries reach unprecedented levels.
The NATO allies and Europe’s only nuclear powers will share nuclear technology and equipment, and create a joint rapid-reaction force.
Several thousand strong, the force will include elite units from both countries, and will be ready to take part in NATO, EU or UN missions.
British and French aircraft carriers will be made compatible so that each country can fly their planes off the other. The ultimate aim is for only one carrier to be at sea at all times.
The move has surprised many especially in the UK. At least a couple of right-wing tabloid newspapers fear Britain’s military independence is being undermined.
The enhanced nuclear co-operation has been described as particularly significant.
But senior military figures and most mainstream commentators argue the defence agreements make sense, especially in an era of severe budget restrictions.