The biggest military investment in British defence since the end of the Cold War.
In a speech to the House of Commons UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson set out a £16.5 billion increase above the manifesto commitment over four years that will protect UK citizens, help build back better from the coronavirus by creating thousands of new jobs and demonstrate to their allies they can always count on the UK.
This spending increase recognizes the need for them to undertake a generational modernization programs in order to defend the UK, their allies and the world’s most vulnerable people.
Since the Cold War the threat from adversaries to the UK has been evolving. Traditional defence and deterrence capabilities remain vital, and the Armed Forces work every day to prevent terror reaching the UK’s shores. Enemies are also operating in increasingly sophisticated ways, including in cyberspace, to further their own interests.
Rather than being confined to some distant battlefield, those that seek to do harm to the UK can reach them through the mobile phones in their pockets or the computers in their homes. To protect their citizens, the UK Defence needs to operate at all times with leading, cutting-edge technology.
The Armed Forces are also working in a broader range of areas than ever before to protect the most vulnerable people in the UK and around the world. Over the course of the coronavirus pandemic in the UK over 20,000 personnel have been made available to deliver PPE, run testing sites and ensure those in the most remote areas can receive the medical care they need.
The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, said:
I have taken this decision in the teeth of the pandemic because the defence of the realm must come first.
The international situation is more perilous and more intensely competitive than at any time since the Cold War and Britain must be true to our history and stand alongside our allies. To achieve this we need to upgrade our capabilities across the board.
This is our chance to end the era of retreat, transform our Armed Forces, bolster our global influence, unite and level up our country, pioneer new technology and defend our people and way of life.
The £16.5 billion extra in the Ministry of Defence’s budget over the next four years is the amount over and above the manifesto commitment. The Government has already pledged to increase defence spending by 0.5% above inflation for every year of this parliament. On existing forecasts, this is an overall cash increase of £24.1 billion over four years compared to last year’s budget.
It will also cement the UK’s position as the largest defence spender in Europe and the second largest in NATO.
The commitment will allow the Government to invest in cutting-edge technology, positioning the UK as a global leader in domains such as cyber and space and addressing weaknesses in our defence arsenal that cannot be allowed to continue. To support these advancements the Prime Minister will also announce a new agency dedicated to Artificial Intelligence, the creation of a National Cyber Force to protect our people from harm and a new ‘Space Command’, capable of launching our first rocket in 2022.
This will be underpinned by a record investment of at least £1.5 billion extra and £5.8 billion total on military research and development and a commitment to invest further in the Future Combat Air System. This reverses the systematic decline in this crucial area in the last thirty years, creating new advances which surmount the old limits of logistics and go beyond military use with a vast number of civilian applications such as autonomous vehicles and aviation.
These projects are expected to create up to 10,000 thousand jobs annually across the UK. These will reflect the expertise and ingenuity of British people both inside and outside our Armed Forces, harnessing the UK’s skills in construction and science and reinvigorating those industries in the coming decades.
Image source of targeted boat UK Military