The prime minister has announced an investment of £16.5bn over four years into the UK’s armed forces, a commitment that marks the biggest financing of defence since the Cold War.
This increase for UK defence – amounting to £24.1bn when combined with the government’s manifesto commitment of 0.5 per cent per year- will create up to 1,000 jobs across the UK as the nation ‘builds back better’ from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The investment will fund a significant expansion of Royal Navy vessels to create the biggest surface fleet of modern warships in Europe, and an additional £1.5bn will be poured into military research, which will include the Future Combat Air System.
Also announced by the PM was a new agency dedicated to Artificial Intelligence, the creation of a National Cyber Force and a new ‘Space Command’ aiming to protect the UK’s interests in space and control the UK’s first satellite launched from a UK rocket by 2022. The National Cyber Force partnership between the Ministry of Defence and GCHQ will conduct cyber operations, from countering terror plots to supporting military operations.
Paul Everitt, chief executive of ADS Group, commented: “This investment will boost our national security, help the UK address new and rapidly evolving threats by developing innovative world-class equipment, and support our economic recovery. The commitment to key projects will embed high-value design and manufacturing skills in all regions and nations of the UK for decades to come.
“It is important that the procurement regime delivers quickly and in a manner that prioritises UK industrial impact, aiding planning and clarity and helping to build back better.”
Other technologies planned for UK defence development include autonomous vehicles, swarm drones and battlefield awareness systems.
Chief of the Defence Staff, General Sir Nick Carter, said: “This multi-year settlement is very welcome for the armed forces. It funds a pathway to modernisation and the digital force we need for the 2030s, integrated across the domains of maritime, air, land, cyber and space.”