ADS warns against defence budget cuts

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The UK’s AeroSpace, Defence and Security (ADS) trade organisation has warned the government that further cuts in defence research and technology funding will inhibit the military’s ability to carry out future roles.

ADS also claimed that further cuts could be detrimental to the UK’s high-skilled research and manufacturing.

The organisation said that the Ministry of Defence’s (MoD’s) research and technology budget has declined by seven per cent this year. It stood at £540m in 2007-08 and £502m in 2008-09. 

ADS cited that the MoD has since revealed in a parliamentary answer that the budget in 2009-10 will be £471m and £439m in 2010-11. 

The organisation claimed that these figures represent a cumulative cut of almost a quarter (23 per cent) in three years.

According to its findings, the overall MoD budget was £33.6bn in 2007-08 and the research and technology budget represents 1.6 per cent of the budget. Defence research and technology is 0.09 per cent of the total government budget.

‘The government must be aware that the MoD’s research and technology budget should be boosted, not cut, to maintain our armed forces’ future capability and our industrial base for the long term,’ said Ian Godden, chairman of ADS. ‘It is a well-proven fact that the amount spent on research and development is a critical factor in the quality and capability of defence equipment in the field.

‘It also seems particularly strange that the government is calling for the creation of an innovative and highly skilled nation with an economy balanced across services and manufacturing, while at the same time it is reducing funding to one of the most important and innovative sectors, where the UK is a world leader,’ he added.

Godden said that continuing to decrease funds will mean the country will ‘store up problems’ for future armed forces and the engineering and high-technology manufacturing industrial base. 

‘This trend must be reversed immediately,’ he said.