Defence industry slams debate on military spending

Posted on 30 Jun 2009 by The Manufacturer

The Society of British Aerospace Companies (SBAC) has criticised Britain’s defence spending and called for a new Strategic Defence Review to be carried out ‘immediately’.

Ian Godden, SBAC chief executive, said: ‘‘The debate about big conditions versus better conditions for troops or more boots on the ground, and between one service or the other is a false, or at best, highly risky one.’’

SBAC argues that any discussion must centre on two fundamental points. Firstly, a recognition of the nature of threats to the nation, coupled with Britain’s standing in the world, and secondly, that the defence industry greatly enhances the UK economy, a fact that must, they say, be recognised by government.

‘‘The real issue is that as a nation, we not longer adequately fund our own defence. Threats to security do not go away simply because we are in a recession.’’

Said Godden: ‘‘World-class armed forces and a high-value, high-tech defence industry that supports them do not occur by accident, instead coming about through sufficient investment over decades.’’

One such investment running dangerously close to collapse is the project to build Britain’s largest aircraft carriers to date, currently running at ₤1bn over budget. ‘‘There is a very real fight for the programme’s survival’’, a memo from the project’s lead contractors warned.

Combined defence spending has fallen by 50% as a percentage of GDP in the past two decades.

Edward Machin