The U.K. Government has announced an increase of £16.5 billion for the Ministry of Defence. The Government has already pledged to increase defence spending by 0.5% in line with inflation. On existing forecasts, this is an overall cash increase of £24.1 billion over four years compared to last year’s budget.
The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson has vowed to end the era of military decline and defence cuts, with a renewed focus towards protecting shipping lanes and returning the U.K. as “the foremost naval power in Europe” with a “renaissance of British shipbuilding across the U.K.”. Despite the catastrophe that the British economy is experiencing, all the main political parties in the U.K. have backed the Government’s spending increase. Labour’s shadow defence secretary John Healey said the extra money would give “a welcome and long-overdue upgrade to Britain’s defences after a decade of decline”. Labour and the Conservatives are now entering a political consensus that the U.K. needs to have a mobile, high-tech and well-funded military that will guarantee that it remains Europe’s principal military power.
Those who admire British power and place in the world should take this as a source of delight—notably the U.S. and CANZUK Nations. According to the IISS Global Military Balance assessment, over the next next-four years, the U.K. could move up to third in Global military expenditure. Though the Government is yet to publish its military review, we can assume the increase in the budget is going to benefit the future Tempest combat air program currently under joint-development by the Ministry of Defence, BAE Systems, Rolls-Royce, and others. The international community has taken note of the Tempest program, with the Japanese Government expected to sign up to the scheme. According to a recent PwC report, the Tempest program will support 20,000 jobs every year from 2026-2050 and contribute more than £25.3 billion to the U.K. economy in its first 30 years.
Furthermore, the extra funds available will increase shipbuilding projects and boost the Royal Navy’s arsenal with a new fleet of logistical ships, a new generation of nuclear submarines and the commitment to build eight Type 26 and five Type 31 frigates. According to Boris Johnson, this will “spur a renaissance of British shipbuilding across the U.K. – in Glasgow and Rosyth, Belfast, Appledore and Birkenhead”.
The Prime Minister recently told M.P.s in the House of Commons that replacing traditional guns with energy weapons would help solve the problem of troops running out of ammo, and that lasers were among “technologies that will revolutionise warfare”. He further declared that “Our warships and combat vehicles will carry directed energy weapons, destroying targets with inexhaustible lasers. For them, the phrase ‘out of ammunition’ will become redundant”. The Prime Minister has promised a bold strategy to the emerging and changing nature of warfare. He announced the creation of a British Space Command, following the American decision to do likewise. The Prime Minister suggested that British troops will have the ability to overwhelm their enemies by launching “a swarm attack by drones”.
The British Government has stated that the departments responsible for Foreign Affairs, Defence and Overseas aid will work together on collective aims. The U.K. Government is to cut foreign aid from 0.7% to 0.5% of GDP. The U.K. now boasts two new aircraft carriers and the carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth is set to lead a British task force to East Asia to reaffirm British commitment to the region and challenge Chinese Government claims to the South China Sea. This is a significant milestone, as the Royal Navy is now planning to uphold a regular presence East of the Suez. This has not been seen since the 1960s. ‘The British are coming’ will echo around China as the memories of the Opium war’s continue to be a source of tension, especially around the status of Hong Kong.
The British Government under Boris Johnson is committed to the principle and aims of Global Britain and reforging a new British position on the international stage. The British are an island race, lacking natural resources or manpower. Boris Johnson is right to channel British resources away from conventional projects and direct spending at the Royal Navy, Cyber-security, Drones, and a new generation of British built Fighter Jets. It is now unthinkable that in the future the British Army will ever again mount an effective campaign alone; warfare in the 21st century is evolving, and the British understand that.