The UK's Aerospace, Defence, Security and Space trade organisation today called on other government departments to shoulder more of the burden of cuts.
The comments follow defence secretary Dr Liam Fox’s speech to Westminster this morning, which was made as the Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) process approaches its publication date.
Rees Ward, Chief Executive of A|D|S, said: “The Secretary of State has outlined a clear path ahead for UK defence in his speech today and we fully support his intentions while recognising that his plans must take account of the difficult economic situation in which the country finds itself.
“Dr Fox has set out the National Security Council’s strategy of addressing the most immediate threats to our national security while maintaining the ability to identify and deal with emerging ones before they become bigger threats to the UK. We believe that this balanced approach is correct and welcome the retention of the longer-term focus, which benefits the armed forces and allows industry to plan with some certainty for the future. We look forward to supporting the implementation of such an approach to enable industry to continue to supply our troops with world-class equipment. Industry also intends to play a full role working with the Defence Reform Unit to improve the interaction between MOD and industry to drive further benefits for the armed forces.
“Maintaining the medium term capabilities required to address emerging threats will require the sustainment if not enhancement of the small percentage of the defence budget earmarked for investment in research and technology. This investment is not something that you can turn off and on like a tap. Once the industrial capabilities it supports are lost, they are gone forever and can only be reinstated at disproportionate cost as demonstrated by in the civil nuclear energy industry for example. This must be kept in mind along with his welcome identification of emerging capabilities such as unmanned systems and cyber-security when the tough choices of which Dr Fox speaks are made.
“Although defence should contribute to solving the current financial difficulties, Dr Fox would be justified in looking around the Cabinet table to challenge other departments to match the contribution to budget savings that defence has already made over the last two decades. Defence spending is half the percentage of Government spending and of GDP that it was twenty years ago. Other departments, where budgets have grown substantially over the same period, should be challenged in the same manner before more is asked of defence given that the demands on our armed forces exceed what was originally planned within the current budget.”