Following on the releases of the Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy and the Defence Command Paper – ‘Defence in a competitive age’, the Government has just published a new Defence and Security Industrial Strategy outlining a new strategic approach to the UK’s defence and security industrial sectors.

Building on the outcomes of the Integrated Review and Command Paper, the Defence and Security Industrial Strategy (DSIS) provides the framework for industry to achieve the ambitions of these strategies over the next decade.

The Integrated Review

The Integrated Review provided the most comprehensive foreign policy and national security approach published by a British Government since the end of the Cold War.

Encompassing the UK’s national security, foreign policy and approach to the global economy together, the report strategizes the Government’s vision for the UK in 2030 and how its international policy will be used to help achieve it.

The UK continues to play a crucial role globally as it seeks to meet its defence responsibilities as key members of the Commonwealth, NATO, Five Eyes and maintaining strong relationships with international partners around the world.

As part of this strategy, there will be a shift in UK foreign policy focus towards countries such as India, Japan and Australia – described by the Government as ‘increasingly the geopolitical centre of the world’.

Evolving the UK’s military capability to be more agile and adaptable, meet new the changing face of global threat and engagement. This includes bolstering the UK’s cyber capabilities and striving to become a global science power, using research & development investments to grow industrial capability and create cutting-edge equipment.

The Government will invest £14.6 billion into research & development and science and technology, using it to influence new designs and capabilities for vital defence equipment.

Defence supports over 300,000 jobs in the UK which is set to increase with a planned spend of over £210 billion on equipment programmes across the next ten years.

The Integrated Review also established tackling climate change and preserving biodiversity as the UK’s number one international priority in the decade ahead. The UK was the first major economy to legislate to achieve Net Zero and all our future aid spending will be aligned with the Paris Agreement.

Defence Command Paper

The Defence Command Paper sets out how the ambitions of the Integrated Review will be supported by Defence and how it can best meet the challenges of evolving threats to the UK’s security and global interests.

To this end, Defence will continue to be globally engaged and as, previously mentioned, seek to strengthen relationships with countries such as India, Japan and Australia.

Each of the armed forces and Strategic Command will see increases in investment as a transition is made to an information age capability.

The Defence supply chain

Critical to meeting the needs of MOD’s strategy is the defence supply chain.

In terms of investment, the Spending Review from November last year revealed the biggest increase in defence spending in over 30 years – a £16.5 billion increase above the government’s manifesto defence investment commitment over four years.

The original commitment pledged to increase defence spending by 0.5% above the inflation rate, which is currently at 0.7%, for every year of the current Parliament.

Overall, this is projected to be a cash increase of £24.1 billion over four years compared to last year’s budget.

Alongside the announcement of the significant rise in defence spending, the Prime Minister highlighted investment in cutting-edge technology that would position the UK as a global leader in domains such as cyber and space.

The Integrated Review gives us a detailed strategy of how this investment will be spent to help achieve the government’s ambitions for the UK’s defence and foreign policy over next decade and beyond.

For the supply chain there are a number of key areas of investment:

Cyber

As the world move into a new digital age, protecting infrastructure and enhancing the UK’s cyber capabilities are key pillars in the Strategy.

The importance of data and digitisation has been highlighted as critical to ensuring a modern, integrated defence which has information at the heart of how it will understand, decide and act and will be invested in accordingly

Strategic Command will invest £1.5 billion over the next decade to build and sustain a ‘digital backbone’ to share and exploit vast amounts of data, through the cloud, and across secure networks that are resilient to cyber-attacks from state, proxy and terrorist adversaries.

The National Cyber Force was created last year to transform the UK’s capacity to conduct targeted offensive cyber operations against terrorists, hostile states and criminal gangs, bringing together personnel from both defence and the intelligence agencies under one unified command for the first time.

Science and Technology

There will also be £6.6 billion invested into research and development projects, helping to provide a strategic advantage that, facilitated with science, will lead to cutting-edge equipment capabilities.

£60 million over the next four years will be used to develop a programme to develop novel weapons, artificial intelligence, synthetic/digital systems and space-based capabilities. Further to this, £500 million will be invested in capabilities to enable our forces to respond in a growingly contested electromagnetic environment.

The Defence Secretary, Ben Wallace, said: “The MOD will prioritise more than £6.6bn of research, development, and experimentation over the next four years so the armed forces can adapt to the threat with advanced technologies. These investments in our future battle-winning capabilities will be guided by the Science and Technology Strategy 2020 and a new Defence and Security Industrial Strategy. Together they will build the partnerships, flexibility and pace of our capability development and procurement. Which, in turn, will not only sustain our strategic advantage as a science power, but energise innovation, stimulate the economy, and generate high-skilled jobs right across the United Kingdom.”

Space

The increasing importance of Space to military operations will see £5 billion invested over the next decade in the Skynet 6 satellite communication programme. This will be complimented by £1.4 billion allocated to the new Space Command, National Space Operations Centre, Space Academy and a UK-built Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance satellite constellation. Space Command will officially launch on 1 April 2021.

Infrastructure

There will be significant investment in infrastructure with funding of £1.3 billion used to improve Single Living Accommodation (SLA), as part of an accommodation strategy, and £1.4 billion into wraparound childcare, giving personnel more childcare options as part of a revised families strategy.

Defence and Security Industrial Strategy (DSIS)

A new direction of travel for defence means a renewed effort from the Ministry of Defence to enhance engagement with the defence industry supply chain.

The Government’s new Defence and Security Industrial Strategy (DSIS) builds on the outcomes of the Integrated Review and Command Paper, the new strategy provides the framework for industry to achieve those ambitions.

The strategy includes a number of key aspirations:

For the broader security sector, DSIS also details how the Government will support the UK industrial base, recognising the challenges faced by its many SMEs.

The Joint Security and Resilience Centre and National Security Technology and Innovation Exchange will ensure that the requirements and concerns of this sector are reflected at the appropriate levels of the Government.

In a deliberate shift away from a policy of ‘global competition by default’, the MOD will adopt a more strategic and nuanced approach in designing capabilities and acquisition strategies to ensure homegrown skills, enterprise and intellectual talents are fully harnessed.

It is envisaged this move will ensure investments in Defence benefit engineers, designers, factory workers, scientists and everyone else across the UK who works in the defence marketplace.

This will allow decisions to taken on the best acquisition and procurement of a military capability based on the technology required, national security requirements and the economic benefits to the UK.

The greater flexibility provided by DSIS will enable the UK to develop and acquire innovative capabilities faster and more efficiently than ever before, while supporting skills and economic growth across the UK.

The Government point to the Tempest programme to develop a world-leading new combat air system as a prime example of how this approach can be successful.

The project involved a sophisticated partnership with companies and strategic investment to develop technologies and advanced manufacturing ensuring the industry, and therefore the UK’s future force, remain best in class.

The UK’s combat air sector generates over £6 billion a year and employs over 46,000 people and this approach treats that as a strategic capability in its own right.

The DSIS will see a renewed focus and priority on exports with a whole of Government approach to driving export success. This strategy says this will be achieved through investment in the UK’s international partnerships, including Ministerial commitment, as well as greater willingness to use Government-to-Government commercial agreements.

Following the additional £24 billion being invested in defence over the next four years, and the MOD’s commitment to spend over £85 billion on equipment and support over the four years, the Government believe that the new strategy provides a real opportunity for UK industry to support thousands of high-quality jobs as the UK looks to build back better from Covid-19 pandemic.

In the Strategy’s Foreword, the Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and the Minister for Defence Procurement, Jeremy Quin, said: “This Defence and Security Industrial Strategy will see industry, government and academia working ever closer together to drive research, enhance investment and promote innovation. We will do so while fundamentally reforming the regulations that govern defence and security procurement and single source contracts, improving the speed of acquisition and ensuring that we incentivise innovation and productivity.

“We will continue to build on the strong links we enjoy with strategic suppliers to ensure we retain critical capabilities onshore and can offer compelling technology for international collaborations. We will bring our allies with us on this great journey, collectively staying one step ahead of our adversaries, and building mutual resilience.”

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