It has been announced that £2 billion will be invested between now and 2026 in programmes to develop “the generation-after-next of military capabilities” including hypersonic weapons and space defence.
According to this news release, key elements of the invesment includes:
- Plans to develop a new weapon demonstrator capable of operating up to hypersonic speeds to better equip our Armed Forces against future threats.
- Expanded research into AI technologies, better understanding how they can benefit service personnel on the front line.
- Investment to build defence capabilities in space, improving intelligence, communication, and surveillance.
“The £2 billion outlined is part of the £6.6 billion investment into research and development following the £24 billion increase in the defence budget announced in the 2021 Defence Command Paper. Designed to meet the MOD’s capability needs, the Science & Technology portfolio will ensure the UK Armed Forces have access to the newest and most cutting-edge technology.”
Dstl Chief Executive Dr Paul Hollinshead was quoted as saying:
“Dstl’s world-class scientists are committed to delivering the best scientific advice and technological solutions, giving the armed forces operational advantage, the edge in decision making, and saving lives.”
The new portfolio, say Dstl, will see defence enhancing its hypersonic research programme alongside significant science and technology investment in AI, cyber, electromagnet activities, novel sensors, advanced materials, space and support to the nuclear deterrent. You can read more about the general plan here.
Recently, I reported that Britain will work with the US and Australia on the development of hypersonic weapons.
The First Sea Lord said recently that the Royal Navy is aiming to become “a global leader in hypersonic weapons”.
The following is an excerpt from a speech given by First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Ben Key in Rosyth, February 10th 2020.
“At the steel cutting for HMS Venturer back in September, on this site, the Defence Secretary said it was not so much a milestone in the life of a single ship, as a glimpse of the future of our Fleet. It’s a future where we are setting ourselves a challenge to become a global leader in hypersonic weapons. A future where we’ll become more adaptive in how we use our platforms, high end war fighting, command and control, floating embassies for the United Nations. Highly lethal, highly reassuring and highly adaptable.
It’s where we will blend crewed and uncrewed systems, operating both F35 and drones from the same flight deck. A future where the Royal Marine Commandos will operate from our Multi role support ships, and ashore in small groups delivering training and support to teams afloat in the Littoral Response Groups and also delivering in a different way special support to maritime operations. And it’s a future where we will regain and retain operational advantage in the underwater domain. So I have a call to arms for you in industry. I want you to feel as invested in this as we are, not because of your share price. Not because of the wonderful manufacturing facilities that allows you to create, but because you recognise you are integral to the success of a Global, Modern, and Ready Royal Navy.”
For more on Royal Navy plans to acquire new missiles, I recommend you check out the following article from defence analyst ‘NavyLookout, a great source of in-depth information.
Additionally, it was recently revealed that a key capability of the Type 83 Destroyer, the ship replacing the Type 45 Destroyer, will be the development of a counter-hypersonic capability.
On the 14th of December 2021 the Defence Committee published a report titled ‘We’re going to need a bigger Navy’. The Government’s response has been published below.
The Defence Committee concluded in their report:
“The Defence Over the next decade the UK and the Navy will face an increasingly
complex international security environment. Russia and China will remain the
primary adversaries at sea, with the relative importance of the UK’s response to each
likely to shift and potentially interact through the decade. Developments in technology, particularly in hypersonic weapons, are changing the conduct of naval warfare and grey zone operations are becoming increasingly important for the UK’s security in the maritime domain, as they are in others.”
The Government responded:
“The Committee’s report aligns with the Government’s assessment of the
complex security environment. In the maritime environment, this is being driven
by the confluence of assertive state actors, who are increasingly operating in the ‘grey
zone’, and the proliferation of lethal technology. The Integrated Review (IR) recognised this challenge and has invested in the Royal Navy (RN) accordingly. This included ‘subthreshold’ capabilities, such as enhancing the Royal Marines as a Special Operations capable Commando Force. The Defence Command Paper committed to a concept and assessment phase for the Future Air Defence system to replace the Type 45 Destroyer, a key element of which will be the development of a counter-hypersonic capability.”