Boris Johnson will unveil £16.6BILLION war chest for space age military to transform our armed forces
BORIS Johnson is set to announce a huge £16.6billion war chest for a space age military to transform our armed forces.
The biggest investment in defence since the Cold War will be used to create a new space command, cyber force and artificial intelligence agency.
The Prime Minister will make the announcement in the Commons today with the money being spread over four years.
The defence budget is currently just under £42bn a year.
The largest chunk of the extra money will be spent on a “space command” that could launch Britain’s first rocket in 2022, as well as “blue skies” projects and investment in a new Tempest fighter.
Billions of pounds have also been earmarked for a National Cyber Force of hackers to tackle online threats.
It will be a joint operation between the military and spy agency GCHQ.
A new Artificial Intelligence agency will be created to focus on the advances in that area.
It is thought it will be part of the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
Boris Johnson is expected to say in a statement: "I have taken this decision in the teeth of the pandemic because the defence of the realm must come first.
'THE DEFENCE OF THE REALM MOST COME FIRST'
"The international situation is more perilous and more intensely competitive than at any time since the Cold War and Britain must be true to our history and stand alongside our allies.
“To achieve this, we need to upgrade our capabilities across the board."
He added: “This is our chance to end the era of retreat, transform our armed forces, bolster our global influence, unite and level up our country, pioneer new technology and defend our people and our way of life.”
The government said the increased military spending will cement the United Kingdom's position as the largest defence spender in Europe, the second largest in NATO, and allow increased investment in areas such as cyber and space.
The announcement comes after the head of the RAF Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston said that future wars may be won or lost in space.
Downing Street warned that threats to the country would no longer be confined to a distant battlefield, adding Britain’s enemies could reach people “through the mobile phones in their pockets or the computers in their homes.”
Where the money will be spent
Formation of a Space Command which will be staffed by all three branches of the military.
It will tackle the threat posed by countries developing anti-satellite weapons.
It will also use a rocket to carry military satellites into orbit.
A National Cyber Force with 500 specialists from the MoD and GCHQ to defend Britain from cyber threats and terrorists.
An Artificial Intelligence agency which will focus on autonomous machinery.
Military research and development will get an extra £1.5bn.
Investment in the RAF's new Tempest fighters which are expected in 2035 and will replace the Typhoons.
It said: “UK defence therefore needs to operate at all times with cutting-edge technology.
“This reverses the systematic decline in this crucial area in the last 30 years.”
Whitehall sources claimed Johnson wanted to show the US President-elect Joe Biden the UK was a dependable ally.
Ben Wallace, the defence secretary, welcomed the spending decision.
"This is excellent news for defence, and provides us with the financial certainty we need to modernise, plan for the future and adapt to the threats we face," he said.
Wallace has spent the last year on an “integrated review” of the threats facing Britain and how the government plans to tackle them.
The results of that review are now not expected until the new year.
It’s thought Johnson had planned to hand the armed forces an extra £15bn but Wallace wanted more over fears the MoD could end up with barely enough to fill its funding deficit, reports say.
The Conservatives had pledged to raise defence spending by 0.5 per cent above inflation for every year in the Parliament, in its manifesto.
Downing Street estimates the money could create around 40,000 jobs over the four years.
Critics of the move have indicated the overseas aid budget could be cut to help pay for the extra defence money.
The government is thought to be considering temporarily reducing a commitment to spend 0.7 per cent of national income on overseas aid.
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