Written statement by Mr Ben Wallace (Secretary of State for Defence)
The first duty of any Government is to defend our country and to keep our people safe. The Ministry of Defence plays a pivotal role in delivering our national security objectives to protect our people, project our influence and promote our prosperity.
This Government has increased the Defence budget by 0.5% above inflation every year to over £41 billion by 2020/21, making us the biggest defence spender in Europe and the second biggest in NATO.
The UK is the second largest defence exporter in the world, selling equipment worth £14bn last year and supporting more than 260,000 British jobs.
We are investing an extra £2.2Bn into defence over this year and next to ensure the UK’s world-class Armed Forces can continue to modernise, meet ever-changing threats and continue to protect the country’s national security. This includes prioritising key capabilities such as cyber, shipbuilding and the nuclear deterrent.
-- The UK Armed Forces are deployed around the world 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
-- In 2019 alone, we have marked 50 years of Continuous At Sea Deterrence, increased the number of Armed Forces personnel in Afghanistan from 650 to around 1,100, delivered over 400 bespoke training activities in the Middle East and North Africa, and provided Military Aid to the Civil Authorities on over 120 occasions.
-- British forces made the second largest overall contribution to the fight against Daesh after the US. We lead a 1000 strong force (c.800 from UK plus troops from France and Denmark) to undertake NATO Enhanced Forward Presence in Estonia, and UK Typhoon aircraft have recently completed an air policing deployment in the Baltic Sea region (2019).
-- We have delivered on our commitment to double the number of military personnel involved in UN peacekeeping, following deployments to Somalia and South Sudan, and increased our presence in the Gulf (Dubai), Asia-Pacific (Singapore) and West Africa (Abuja) to provide a focal point for defence activity. In 2018 we opened the first overseas Navy base in 50 years in Bahrain.
-- In both 2017 and 2019, the UK provided military support for humanitarian and disaster relief to the Caribbean Islands left devastated by natural disasters, Hurricane Irma (Op RUMAN) and Hurricane Dorian (Op BARYTONE). This year, in the Caribbean and Atlantic, the RFA have seized or disrupted 1.4 metric tonnes of cocaine and cannabis, worth over £45 million.
-- We are working to strengthen the support we give to our serving personnel, veterans and their families.
-- More than 4,000 organisations have signed the Armed Forces Covenant and the new Office for Veterans’ Affairs will ensure the UK leads the world in care for Armed Forces Veterans.
-- We have launched the first ever UK-wide strategy on the delivery of support for veterans, including a new ID card for veterans, which will help them access specialist support and services.
-- The Flexible Working Act was passed enabling Service personnel to request Restricted Separation and or part-time working to enable them to balance their personal commitments with Defence, helping to improve retention. We have also doubled the operational allowance for deployed Military personnel and are currently investing a further £123 million, as a minimum, this financial year to improve Service Family Accommodation in the UK.
-- We have made £280 million in payments to more than 18K applicants so far through the Forces Help to Buy scheme and allocated over £230 million from LIBOR fines for the Armed Forces community.
-- We achieved the target of enrolling 50,000 apprentices in the MOD, 16 months ahead of the target date.
-- We are based across the United Kingdom, and through our industrial contracts and bases we support 10,000 jobs in Scotland and more than 6,000 in Wales.
-- We have met our target of Cadet expansion programme of 500 cadet units parading ahead of time.
-- We will spend £186 billion on equipment and equipment support between 2018 and 2028.
-- The Army have signed major equipment support contracts including a £439 million contract for Apache helicopter support and funded a demonstration phase to upgrade Warrior vehicles.
-- We have placed a £4.5 billion contract, including in-service support until 2024, to purchase 589 AJAX vehicles.
-- This month [October], UK F-35 Lightning jets landed and took off from HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH for the first time, as part of the preparations for the Carrier Strike Group deployment in 2021. Her sister ship, HMS PRINCE OF WALES, is conducting sea trials and will be commissioned later this year.
-- In 2019 we took delivery of additional F-35B aircraft, bringing the total to 18, and placed order for more to be delivered between 2020 – 2022. British F-35Bs completed their first operational missions this year.
-- We have taken delivery of our final Typhoon aircraft (taking the current fleet to 157) and have continued to grow the UKs A400M transport aircraft fleet.
-- This year we have announced our intent to procure five E7 Airborne Early Warning aircraft and in recent years we have secured deals to provide nine P-8A Maritime Patrol Aircraft and 50 Apache AH-64E aircraft through a Foreign Military Sales agreement with the US Government.
-- The first steel has been cut for the second ship in the Royal Navy’s next generation of Type 26 anti-submarine frigates; the first ship, HMS GLASGOW, will enter service in 2027. Australia and Canada have committed to purchase the design.
-- All four of the TIDE class tankers have been delivered whilst HMS MEDWAY, the second of five new offshore patrol vessels, has been accepted into the Fleet.
-- Building on the success of the RAF’s first ever satellite, Carbonite-II, we have joined the U.S. Combined Space Operations Centre in California. An RAF pilot has been seconded to Virgin Orbit.
-- The UK continues to play an ambitious and trailblazing role on the global stage, designing, developing and rapidly procuring state-of-the-art equipment that ensures our Armed Forces are fit for the future.
-- The defence industry champions British manufacturing, pushes the boundaries of technology and delivers unique export opportunities across the world to protect not just the UK, but our allies too.
-- As a thriving national sector with a truly global reach, the work of defence underpins the Government’s industrial and economic strategies and continues to drive British innovation on the international stage.
-- The DSEI exhibition showcases every two years the very best of British ingenuity, innovation and industry on the international stage, demonstrating how Global Britain continues to be a world leader in technology and defence.
-- Built on more than 400 years of excellence and innovation, we consistently push the possibilities to the limit, developing and exporting battle-winning capabilities that redefine the defence landscape.
-- We are constantly sharpening our cutting-edge capabilities, exploring and procuring the very best technology to ensure we continue to outpace adversaries for generations to come.
-- The UK alone injects nearly £20bn into our national defence industry every year, almost £300 for every person in the country, making defence spending a powerhouse behind the UK economy, driving export orders and future-proofing the industry for generations to come.
-- We are implementing the National Shipbuilding Strategy to transform the procurement of naval ships, make the UK’s maritime industry more competitive, grow the Royal Navy fleet by the 2030s, export British ships overseas, and boost innovation, skills, jobs, and productivity across the UK.
-- Built on the foundations of a thriving UK defence sector that continues to turbocharge regional economies, a consortia led by Babcock, in partnership with the Thales Group, has been selected as the preferred bidder for the Type 31 general purpose frigates procurement process reinforcing international partnerships, building security co-operation and strengthening our influence across the world.
-- We have invested over £40 million in developing a new Cyber Security Operations Capability.
-- Investing £48 million to deliver a new state of the art Chemical Weapons Defence Centre at Dstl Porton Down.
-- We have published the Combat Air Strategy to strengthen the UK’s role as a global leader in the sector and to protect key skills across the UK industrial base. Team Tempest will bring together the UK’s world leading industry and sovereign capabilities across future combat air’s four key technology areas.
-- We have opened the £83 million state of the art Defence Fulfilment Centre at Donnington, Shropshire, operated through the MOD’s partnership with Team Leidos to transform Defence logistics.
-- The Small and Medium-sized Enterprises Action Plan was published this year, and the Defence and Security Accelerator has allocated over £36 million to over 200 proposals.
-- We have secured a £6 billion Qatari deal to purchase 24 Typhoon and 9 Hawk aircraft from the UK.
-- As our exports orders climb, our supply chains continue to reinforce our regional economies, supporting highly skilled jobs and training apprentices to be the future of our pioneering UK defence sector.