The U.K. Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has announced the biggest investment in the U.K.’s Armed Forces since the end of the Cold War, confirming an injection of £16.5 billion over four years. Combined with the manifesto commitment of a 0.5% uplift, the total increase for Defence is a substantial £24.1 billion.
Johnson has announced a new agency dedicated to developing Artificial Intelligence, the creation of a National Cyber Force and a new ‘Space Command’ that will protect the U.K.’s interests in space and control the U.K.’s first satellite launched from a U.K. rocket by 2022.
The November 19 announcement funds a generational modernization of the Armed Forces so they can defend the U.K. against future threats, while cementing Britain’s role as a leader in NATO and stimulating thousands of highly skilled jobs across the U.K.
A radical program of innovation and modernization will create up to 10,000 British jobs a year, and support thousands more livelihoods as the nation builds back better from the coronavirus pandemic.
The investment will underpin the revitalization of shipbuilding, funding a significant expansion of Royal Navy vessels to create the biggest surface fleet of modern warships in Europe.
An additional £1.5 billion will be poured into military research – including for the Future Combat Air System – allowing the Armed Forces to tackle the threats of tomorrow and to make sure the U.K. can stand shoulder to shoulder with its allies across the globe.
For the hardworking men and women of the armed forces, the funding will go towards improving their day to day lives – whether through the wrap around childcare offer or improved living conditions, their health and wellbeing will be protected.
In recent years, the U.K.’s adversaries have developed and weaponized a myriad of emerging technologies which go beyond the traditional warfighting domains of air, land and sea.
The new National Cyber Force will disrupt terrorists, hostile state activity and criminals and transform the U.K.’s cyber capabilities. This Ministry of Defence and GCHQ partnership will conduct responsible cyber operations ranging from countering terror plots to supporting military operations.
Thanks to the cash injection, other technologies including autonomous vehicles, swarm drones, and cutting-edge battlefield awareness systems will be developed for military use.
These developments will be underpinned by a strong R&D pipeline, which will contribute to the already over 400,000 skilled jobs.
The £16.5 billion investment confirms the U.K.’s order of 8 Type 26 and 5 Type 31 frigates, commits to the next generation Type 32, and supports the future solid support ships that will supply the nation’s Carrier Strike Group.
In the years ahead, the Ministry of Defence will continue to research, invest and adapt its equipment to become a greener and more sustainable industry. As the U.K. prepares to lead the COP26 summit in Glasgow next year, the ministry will be working to reduce the emissions footprint of its armed forces around the globe.