UK’s industrial strategy must boost defence sector

The government’s industrial strategy should be used to boost the capability of and, spin off technologies in, the UK defence and security supply chain, according to the head of EEF.

The call was made by Terry Scuoler, chief executive of EEF, addressing senior executives at the annual conference of NDI, the organisation representing Britain’s Defence, Security, Aerospace and Space industries.

Terry Scuoler, CEO, EEF
Terry Scuoler, CEO, EEF.

According to Scuoler the on-going capability of these key sectors is vital to the future of high value manufacturing in the UK and, the capacity of prime contractor leadership.

He urged government to use the industrial strategy it is developing to help nurture and support key technologies and supply chains in a similar way to that which is adopted in the US.

Commenting, Terry Scuoler, said: “The advantage to the UK economy of maintaining key onshore capacity is clear.

“It is linked to the development of technology, job creation, supply chain development and potential future export sales and the forthcoming industrial strategy has a key role to play in nurturing and supporting this.

“I have also no doubt that the technologies developed on such major defence and security programmes will spin off into other sectors of our economy and help resolve other challenges faced in our ever changing world.”

Scuoler welcomed the government commitment to maintain defence and security spending, with a £178bn defence equipment plan announced in 2015 alongside an ongoing commitment to meet our NATA obligation to spend 2% of GDP on defence.

He said: “I cannot conceive of our country not having a strong strategic defence capability and therefore the on-going capacity of our prime contractor leadership, key technologies and supply chains must be nurtured and supported by government.

F35 fighter
EEF’s Terry Scuoler welcomed the governments on-going commitment to the F35 fighter programme – image courtesy of Lockheed Martin.

“Programmes are therefore vital to maintaining this ongoing capability and I welcome the governments on-going commitment to the F35 fighter programme, particularly as UK industry will build 15% of each of the more than 3,000 planned aircraft.

“Confirmation on October 1 of the commencement of manufacturing for the Successor programme is also welcome news. The £41bn programme will create tens of thousands of highly skilled jobs and provide opportunities for many hundreds of supply chain companies.

“Perhaps most importantly of all it will provide a long term, last resort strategic deterrence to the people of Great Britain at a time and in a world of increasing global challenge and uncertainty.”