The Chancellor Philip Hammond has pledged an extra £1bn for defence in order to boost cyber capability and the Dreadnought submarine program. 

The Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson has been campaigning for an increase in spending since taking office last year. In June 2018, it was reported that he had asked the Prime Minister Theresa May for an extra £4 billion a year. Prominent defence advocate Johnny Mercer MP praised the “good work” from Williamson in lobbying the treasury.

Williamson hailed the announcement, saying it will “allow defence to modernise our critical assets, such as our offensive cyber capabilities, anti-submarine warfare and our nuclear deterrent.

The extra £1 billion for defence on top of the £800 million increase this summer represents a substantial financial boost and reaffirms our commitment to protecting national security”.

In July, US Secretary of Defence James Mattis wrote to Williamson to express concern that the UK’s status as a leading military power “is at risk of erosion”. Mattis also suggested Britain’s “special relationship” with the US could be at risk without the UK increasing the amount it spends on defence.

“It is in the best interest of both our nations for the UK to remain the US partner of choice. In that spirit, the UK will need to invest and maintain robust military capability.”

James Mattis, US Secretary of Defence

Despite the increase, a long term solution to the £20bn black hole has been delayed by at least 6 months until the 2019 spending review.

Earlier this year, the Defence Select Committee recommended an increase in the defence budget to 3% of GDP in order to maintain influence and capability.

Today’s boost will prevent further cuts to equipment. At the Tory Party Conference last month, it was announced that the amphibious assault ships HMS Albion and Bulwark  would be saved from cuts. Many however anticipated that their saving would come at a cost: the early retirement of several Type 23 frigates. The extra £1bn will likely to prevent this.


  1. Morning all
    Could be worse
    Money is forecast over two years to keep delivery of current platforms and projects on track, it gives planners a little more headroom until the end of the FY and allows certain things to get finished off.
    Do not however expect anything new (extra T26 etc), this money is responding to the need, a reaction to current issues that need to be dealt with without touching forecast spend allocated to other systems.
    Other cash is being made available, the Army for example are below their headcount, you cannot pay soldiers you do not have.
    The interesting thing will be to see the detail behind the ASW spend, is this P-8 being brought forward, is this all the T23 receiving their upgrades and making them fit to fight and then fit to sell?
    Cyber and Dreadnaught speak for themselves, IT is expensive and, as other commentators have said – Dreadnaught is one big black hole of cash; no bad thing if the system we get at the end fulfills the requirement as set down by the user.

    Interesting times but I quote Churchill on this one:
    “This is not the beginning of the end, just the end of the beginning”
    Or in Wayne’s World speak “game on”

    • Are the details behind the 20b black hole public? From what I read it is based on a number of worst case scenarios happening around price increases of the various new assets. I assume if there was a worst case figure in the report, there’s must also have been a realistic bad case scenario and a norm scenario.

      We don’t need to know best cases, as they are never achieved but worst cases are equally not that useful as it’s unlikely all purchases will come out at worst case and so is being reported mainly for scare tactics / headline making

      • Morning Steve
        They are an estimate based on risk modelling (10/50/90) hence you get such a wide range in the cost overspend estimate (£4bn to £20bn).

        Departmental budgets are a very unique government way of doing finances, it can drive you round the bend 🤪

    • My first assumption was that the ASW element of this would go towards on or two new P-8 aircraft but I’m not basing that off anything unfortunately.

      • I suspect the mention of ASW might have been P-8 but note also that the other area explicitly mentioned was Dreadnought. Dreadnought is a program already totally locked in at least in terms of the number of units being procured (4 subs) so I assume the reference to Dreadnought was that the extra funding was to ensure it stays on track and isn’t derailed by overspends and/or currency issues (the Common Missile Compartments are presumably USD-priced items for instance). The pessimist in me suspects that the reference to P-8, if that was indeed what the ASW reference was referring to, might be a similar case of keeping an existing program on track rather than an expansion of that program. I’d be very happy if I’m wrong.

  2. Atleast we’ve had some good news this year on defence, it still boggles me that we are spending so much on defence but have far less assets than we used to have!! We should increase to 3% GDP….l

    • The way I think about it is to compare the weight of armored vehicles with what they are replacing. Its almost double across the board which explains the doubling of price. Electronics are much more sophisticated now too but the capabilities are significantly higher now as well.
      Iraq had thousands of armored vehicles in the first gulf war and was wiped out in a matter of weeks because our equipment was a generation ahead.

  3. Well guys, a slight increase is better than the year on year real term cuts, defence has experienced over the last 30 years.

    They simply can’t cut anything else without collapsing capability.

    The Navy and Airforce aren’t just cut the bone, those bones have then been been thrown in the pot and had the marrow boiled out of them….

    Only the army with its MBT fleet has a capability left to cut, there’s simply no choice left but to increase spending now.

    They have to stop the decline in personel numbers across the three sevices soon, by offering attractive job prospects with pay and bonuses, in line with the private sector.

    We have to attract ( and retain) the best and brightest millennials to the armed forces with some of this money.

    • Spot on John. HMG talks the talk to deceive the public but allows capabilities to degrade or be lost entirely. £1bn helps & is a step in the right direction, but doesn’t go very far across the military. It needs a lot more to stop the rot. I’m still holding my breath until it is clear this is new money or just re-announcing previous commitments to appear as new money.

  4. The carriers aren’t helping: they are sucking extra personnel and finances from Defence and their contribution to Defence is outweighed by the negative impact on balance of forces.

    That said: it’s too late (we could and should sell them but that won’t happen).

    The Army is still too large; a reduction of 10% would deliver an enormous financial boost to the RN, RM and RAF

    • Dave the equipment budget for the next 10 years doesn’t really support your argument. I think it is part perspective, we got used to not having carriers, they return to the fleet and there are issues that program gets the blame. Look to what has been done to the MoD budget over the last 20 years.
      As to the Army being too big. The RM strength is approx. 10% of the army’s total strength. Not sure what percentage it is of it’s infantry strength?
      Should the Navy really have almost a quarter of its manpower tied up as Infantry (very good Infantry at that). I don’t think it should, but I am not sure what the answer is.

        • I’d transfer RM to Army and Fishery Protection to Coastguard. Heard from somewhere a while ago that RM officers are keen on Naval link but OR’s would love to be part of Army. The problem is the RN chiefs. They want to keep both if only for sentimental reasons. The RM regularly complain the RN doesn’t value them but the truth is the exact opposite.

          • OR’s would love to be part of Army?

            Gosh, where did you hear that one?

            Royal Marines are part of the Royal Navy, ask a booty what is says on his ID card.

            The RM aren’t like the USMC which is a separate service within the Department of the Navy and is a different service from the USN.

          • Seen and heard it many times most notably from Gen Julian Thompson in numerous books and articles. If you know any ex or serving Marines who disagree i’d be happy to listen.

          • In every other major country fishery protection would not be a naval function. It should be part of the Coast Guard and Maritime Agency.

    • Carriers are paid for and were needed .

      Deterrent in core, financial mismanagement and overspending by MoD, and government indifference are the issues.

      • I agree 100% Daniele – well said. The point that seems to be overlooked a lot is that Osborne moved the deterrent into the core MoD budget from the Treasury but didn’t increase the budget. It soaks up 8-10% of the MoD budget every year. Moving it back to the Treasury – as it should – would free up a lot of cash and help right the ship! Sadly, never going to happen.

      • Wanted not needed. There were other paths we could have gone down.

        I would say small carriers for AEW and ASW are a need for us. But a large carrier is more about foreign policy than defence and the two don’t always map.

    • Don’t the carriers have a smaller complement that the previous Invincible carriers, and there is two of them instead of three.
      Most of the sailors on board are likely to be fresh recruits who signed up because they wanted to serve on one of the new carriers. Their large size makes them incredibly versatile for humanitarian aid etc during peace time rather than a small and limited LPD’s that would have been the alternative.
      Sure the capital cost was large but now they are here to get rid of them would be moronic.

      • With air group aboard the QE’s need about 400 more sailors per ship. But when you count 2 new QE’s versus 3 old Invincibles they total the same. The problem the RN has with manning has nothing to do with the carriers.

        • For goodness sake the QE carriers are without any doubt the most efficient and cost effective fleet carrier design ever conceived. These vessels can each carry 75% the payload of a US Ford class carrier which each cost X2 the cost of both QE carriers combined.
          The government are asleep at the wheel Williamson is right £4 billion extra a year is needed for defence. A focus on ASW is needed as that is where our potential peer enemies are investing and proliferating. Forget the Russian surface fleet it is the sub surface fleet that Putin is modernising and building new attack and ballistic subs as well as reasonably large numbers of improved kilo class conventionally powered subs.

      • Yes. But in reality we never operated the Invincibles any where near the tempo the US operates its fleet carriers. If you look at when the three were in commission and time at sea you could argue we only actually had two as it were. So in a way the new carriers which be just as ‘available’ as the Invincibles were.

        • 1 QE is as capable as all 3 invincible class combined. Yet has much less operating cost than all 3 of those ships combined. I hope the QEs continue their apparent good mechanical reliability so they have availability and can at times have both in service or surged as needed.
          For me the QE class are exactly what the RN needs at this time with BREXIT approaching and our potential enemies more than happy to contest regions of sea and claim dominance.
          Just need to ensure the RN has enough warships and subs to defend these flagships and therefore ensure these vital vessels can do what they are designed to do. Dominate air space and throw a protective screen over the fleet whilst providing over the horizon advanced strike.

    • I disagree, the carriers are a vital asset to our country, they will project, and enforce, our country’s influence around the World. They also do our country’s prestige a lot of good on the World stage.

      • HMG & MOD need to improve the self defence armament planned for the QEs as they will be very vulnerable to mass super/hypersonic ASMs.
        They put the RN & UK back into the big league & are great enablers. There needs to be enough escorts to cover sensibly sized CTGs whilst leaving enough to cover all the other tasks. 19 is simply too few & the reality is we don’t even have 19 now.

        • Frank62you are utterly correct sir. The Royal navy needs 26+ escort warships just to match current commitments and provide a CTG
          That equates to 6 type 45s (updated and armed with Mk41vls strike cells)
          8+ type 26s ideally now Australia and Canada have ordered the design we can increase our order to 10+ ASW versions
          10 type 31s
          Astute class needs a batch 2 made up of 3-4 vessels concurrently built with Dreadnought class. Until a batch 2 is built we should probably refit and retain the last 3 Trafalgar class which are still a very capable vessel easily able to defeat the best Russian subs.
          Thought provoking and it is going to cost money but we simply have no choice we have to get this done.

      • They are an asset, but vital? I think national pride is somewhat under valued these days. And as marvellous as QE looked entering in NY and PR value off the charts. But vital no, nice yes.

  5. Thank god for CVF, all the positive news flow this is generating at the moment as well as some other naval aspects such as new base in Bahrain is the only good news story’s coming out of global Britain. It’s telling that for the first time in peace time history post 1945 defence spending has become elevated to number two priority behind only NHS.

    UK needs to continue the focus on the navy and air force and consider scalimg back the army further. 82,000 in the army as well as 7,000 RM 2,000 RAF regiment and 5,000 in JFH still puts land forces in the region of 95,000 high is still high given HMG propensity to deploy those forces on scale is all but zero.

  6. For me this 1 billion is just a sticking plaster over a gaping wound, and kicking the healing can down the road a bit more.

    Governments are masters at that!

    Defence needs increases like that every year ring fenced, not a one off payment followed by the MDP later on, itself kicked down the road repeatedly.

    • Agreed Daniele!

      “Work on the F-35, by a consortium led by the US-based Lockheed Martin, began in 1996 and was scheduled for completion in 2012 but has been beset by problems. The US estimate of the total cost of the programme jumped from £174bn in 2001 to £283bn this year.

      The MoD has so far refused to provide the estimated cost to the UK of buying the F-35, beyond referring to a National Audit Office report that put the total UK cost of the programme through to 2026 at £9.1bn. The MoD declined to offer even a rough figure beyond 2026.
      The defence committee said: “[We view] the MoD’s failure to provide adequate cost estimates, either on an overall programme basis or on a per-aircraft basis, as wholly unsatisfactory. It amounts to an open-ended financial commitment which can be quantified only in retrospect.”
      The committee said it recognised the difficulties in arriving at an estimate. “However, it is simply not acceptable for the MoD to refuse to disclose to parliament and the public its estimates for the total cost of the programme and to suggest instead that we must wait until the mid-2030s (when all 138 F-35s have been procured) to be able to work out a full unit cost for each aircraft, once spares and upgrades are included.”

      • (Chris H) Nigel Collins – I admire your ability to slip in your pet hobbyhorse (F-35) into every discussion. But often you are incorrect in your statements, you quote hugely biased reports and you never answer the key question which is without the F-35B how much would our carriers have cost and even if they would have ever been built. Oh and what would have replaced the Harrier?

        Now I believe the F-35B is totally the right aircraft at the right time for the UK and that we don’t need the F-35A or C versions. Now whether it proves to remain that in the future I am open minded. If it isn’t we need to look at the numbers bought. But it seems to me the UK will be in a very good place with the combination of F-35B and Typhoon and even better when Tempest comes in.

        As to cost you never, ever of course mention the credit side of the ‘F-35 Question’ do you? And that is the benefit UK Incorporated (and therefore the Treasury) get from the 15% (or 20% depending on build) of the value of a 3,000 unit programme

        “Lockheed Martin, the American aviation giant manufacturing the multi million-pound supersonic planes, said the programme has generated 12.9 billion dollars in contracts for British suppliers”
        January 2018

        So as some 300 aircraft have been built so far at LRIP costs and productivity its not a bad bet to say the 3,000 unit programme could generate some ($12.9 Bn x 10) = $129 Bn for the UK economy. Or $129 / £1.30 = £99 Bn.

        An F-35B @ LRIP 11 contract cost = $115 Mn. We plan to buy 138 at a calculated cost of some $15.9 Bn (ignoring the fact they get cheaper with each LRIP and especially so when serial production starts).

        I will leave you to do the ‘P & L’ on the UK’s involvement with F-35.

        • So, reports from the DOD, Pentagon, UK defence committee amongst others are highly biased?

          Personally, I think not unless you know better which clearly you think you do?

          Forget the 3000 unit programme Chris H, It’s not going to happen!

          Speaking of serious problems that rear their ugly heads, let’s talk about the bad news. The Pentagon and two unnamed countries have stopped accepting F-35s in an argument about whether buyers or Lockheed Martin will pay for a costly fix to the jet.

          “The problem: During maintenance at Hill Air Force Base, maintainers discovered an unacceptable amount of corrosion where an exterior carbon fibre panel fastened to the F-35 airframe. Lockheed Martin workers had failed to apply an anti-corrosion primer to aluminium fasteners to prevent corrosion. According to Reuters, LockMart had failed to apply the primer to parts in more than 200 jets.

          That sounds like a pretty open and shut case of contractor liability, but government inspectors were supposed to catch the problem, complicating things. Although fix was devised it is expensive and involves fixing F-35s now located around the world. The F-35 program and Lockheed Martin are now arguing over who will pay for it.”

          We have not committed to purchasing the full 138 aircraft as you yourself have mentioned, plus other countries are holding back also. Israel is a prime example of this.

          Why do you think the MOD is failing to disclose the actual costs???

          It will not have full weapons capability until 2025 including internal fitting of Meteor, providing we pay for the upgrade to Block 4 software and hardware (4.1, 4.2, 4.3, 4.4) cost still unknown.

          • And another biased report? or fact?

            Despite an earlier commitment to buy 138 F-35B jets, it has been suggested that the overall number could eventually fall.

            Lieutenant General Mark Poffley, deputy chief of the UK defence staff, told MPs today that he was “sympathetic” to the idea that the overall number could decrease.

            Stephen Lovegrove, a senior civil servant at the MoD, revealed that the cost of the first tranche of 48 could rise from £9bn in 2025 to £13bn in 2048.

            Julian Lewis MP commented “we are going to have to adjust the numbers of these aircraft that we order.”

            “He later added:

            “What’s clear then is that the 48 are safe, secure, done and dusted as it were as far as the financial cost is concerned, but after that there is inevitable uncertainty, that’s what you are telling us?”

            “That’s the reality of the world we are living in,” Pofley replied.”


          • If the corrosion problem is as described the only liable party (front ultimate client perspective) will be / should be KN front a latent defect perspective. Client inspection is only assurance… If Mod contracts say anything else there are major competency issue in procuring teams.

          • Hi Nigel
            I am still slightly baffled why you are against this programme and see it from a very one sided point of view.
            Countries are buying it, countries are using it – you seem fixated on finding fault with it.
            The UK will buy the appropriate number of aircraft it needs to satisfy the requirement, this will include cost.
            I see that you have highlighted parts of the Defence committee that potentially satisfies an arguement that has been had and gone.

            I am more than happy to be educated/corrected but I hope that the arguement is balanced and not filled with negatives about an aircraft that is being purchased and used by more and more nations.

          • Hi Lee H,
            My arguments against the purchase of more F35’s other than the 48 we have agreed to is simple.

            The internal weapons storage is too small, the effective range of the F35B aircraft is not adequate given the distance anti-ship missiles can now reach (currently exceeding 900ml).

            Advantages of its low observability against future Russian surface to air missiles after 2025. 2x F/A-18E/F Block III Super Hornets can already get a missile track using “IRST—infrared search and track long-range counter-stealth targeting technology, Russia and China will also be able to do the same within the next five/seven years according to senior US military officials.

            966 faults that are currently known about still need to be fixed after the aircraft first flew 18 years ago.

            The cost to upgrade to Block 4 software still not finalised but could reach well above $10 Billion dollars of which we will have to pay 4.5% I believe.

            Question, Why invest large sums of UK taxpayers money on an aircraft that has a litany of known faults, stealth capabilities that will offer little tactical advantage by the time we receive our final aircraft (48) which is due in 2025/6?

            Personally, I would be looking to get EMALS onboard our carriers at the earliest opportunity making them far more flexible and placing an order for Block III Super Hornets and the latest version of Growlers which will put a few more eggs in our basket short-term and hopefully see us through to the arrival of Tempest.

            Equally, investing in long-range missiles is going to be the safest way to defeat a peer enemy and the F35B’s useful advantage “stealth” will have severely compromised.

            The US has already stated it expects conflict with China in the next fifteen years if not before as I mentioned in a previous thread and the UK & Europe need to take care of any future threats from possible Russian aggression. They can’t fight on both fronts at the same time!

            EMALS will be fully operational within the next two years at the very latest.

            Its a cat and mouse game between developing a platform with an advantage over the opposition before their technology catches up. The F35 programme is ten years behind schedule and counting.

            Unless anyone else on here can see a better alternative other than dodging a bullet for the next fifteen years at least before we see Tempest, or are happy to place all of our eggs in one basket (F35B), then I would look to see how we can best spend our limited budget on better defending the UK’s interests other than buying all 138 F35’s.


    • You are quite right, at least a quarter of the £1bn could go on feasibility studies and project costs before a penny is even spent on actual kit. If the Navy, for instance, wants to replenish it’s dangerously depleted store of spares there wouldn’t be anything left for anything else let alone moving projects forward.

  7. Firstly, I think we should applaud Gavin Williamson, he has shown himself to actually care about our armed forces and our place in the world (whatever that may be).

    I posted on another thread that NATO is stating our 2.1% commitment equates to £44bn pa. (exc pensions) yet the MOD state we are spending $36.6bn pa. (inc pensions) so there is clearly something additional in that figure or it is wrong.

    I agree with most of the comments on here, the MOD is wasteful and lacks strategy and a clear focus, with the exception of the RN it is very poorly managed (especially the Army).

    Also given that a significant proportion of our equipment is now US derived (a government decision t wind down our own manufacturing capabilities) then this equates to a 15% overall reduction in the MOD budget despite modest annual increase in GBP.

    We should be looking to our military as a key pillar of our society through its people and the industries it supports and ensure that those who serve can get jobs in the Police etc upon exit.

    Lastly, we need to ensure young people are attracted to the military for a career, this needs the most change as it costs money to put in the frameworks that allow people to have a work/life balance.

    In short – we need that £44bn in Gavin Williamson’s hands now (2.5% GDP min), we need a new equipment plan that supports UK industry, we need a military that is 10% bigger than it is today, and we need to make it attractive to the current generation in order to meet that force target.

    • Army procurement since 2000 has been horrendous. Constantly changing their mind on requirements resulting in a delay to selecting Boxer and a loss of industrial work share. Corruption in the acquisition of the Command and Liaison vehicle that is now for sale 30 years before its OSD (because it was useless and unreliable). The Warrior Mid life extension has turned into a farce (I would just replace it with Ajax as I don’t think it belongs in the strike brigade concept, its to heavy to be a scout vehicle).
      I had high hopes for Foxhound but it ended up too expensive and unreliable meaning we have to resort to foreign companies to supplies the bulk of our logistics fleet.
      The Navy can’t be blamed for the T45 or OPV issues as they where entirely political.

  8. Don’t want to rain on any parades but do you all realise the MoD has now received an extra £1.8bn over the last 6 months to spend over the next 18 months. Other than the NHS that is more than any other dept. I’ll suggest again that the problem at the MoD has only a little to do with money and a lot to do with the people running our armed forces and it’s been like that for a very long time.

  9. I agree David

    you have to wonder how Nick Carter got the top Job… did the interview go something like this

    So Nick, what are your key achievements?

    Well I have spent billions on strike brigades that don’t actually exist.
    I also am 10% short on my headcount but it doesn’t matter because we will just use the RM to plug any gaps
    oh and out of a force of 110k personnel (inc reserve) I can almost deploy a brigade for you should you need it, but really wouldn’t like to go much over a battalion please. At least it saves money.

    Great – you’ve got the job..

    I find it simply unbelievable that he got the job when there are far better candidates, and that for me shows how bad it has got.

  10. One newspaper described the plight of four elderly frigates out of a total of 13 which had not been to sea during 2018 due to a lack of sailors. One must ask, where on earth are all these billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money going?

    How much is Brexit now costing? I note that another £500 million has been allocated to it during the Budget yesterday. Is that now over £35 billion to remove the UK from the EU?

    • (Chris H) TH – Whatever it costs to remove ourselves from the EU Ponzi scheme a) we were never told this by those who took us in without our permission, b) we were never told this by Remain in the referendum campaign and c) it will be SO worth it.

      Oh and by the way @ £13 Bn a year that £35 Bn would have been exceeded in 3 years and we are offering this as part of our Withdrawal Agreement which, if there is no deal, we keep. We are a country that honours our Treaty obligations but we are only obligated to the end of the current EU MFF Round in December 2020 (also the suggested Transition Period end date) so £13 Bn x 1.75 yrs = £22.75. Again I am not sure any EU Luvvies sort of passed this on in the campaign did they?

  11. fishery protection is wrongly seen as a soft & surplus element of RN tasking. History aside, The UK fisheries are a significant part of the UK economic picture and protecting the industry is a strategic economic issue, it sits alongside protection of all our offshore assets be it oil or , energy generation. Operationally fishery tasking also involve counter terrorism, national security and various miscellaneous activity. Training wise the fish boats are a core part of the development of seamanship skills for command. The coastguard/ mca are not a law enforcement body, it would take a significant change in legislation to enact such powers, not to mention a colossal restructuring, recruitment and purchase on vessels and equipment. Money better spent on reactivating the five MCA salvage tugs.

    • We need more River class O.P.V.s to police our E.E.Z. after Brexit, we don’t have enough of them for a country with our coastline length, especially when you consider some are based far off (e.g. Falklands), some in repair/refit, etc. Italy, Spain and France all have more O.P.V.s than us. We should permanently keep the batch 1s and build another 2-4 on top of that for a total of 10-12.

    • Fisheries protection is actually a DEFRA tasking and they pay the RN to do it for them in English waters. Scotland has three of its own cutters for the same task.

  12. Im sure this extra money in ASW capabilities will a buy a few nice leather seats and a kettle for the P8s!! nothing great, nothing bad, but what do you expect!

  13. It is good to see more being spent on defence, but it needs to be a lot more. We need more submarines first and foremost, this could be done inexpensively with say 5 Wyvern diesel electric subs, or another Astute or 2. Also increase the surface fleet inexpensively with more Type 31s and River class O.P.V.s to free up the more high end assets. The the R.A.F. should come 2nd, then the Army. I don’t foresee us fighting any major land wars in the near future and as an island it makes sense to fund the Royal Navy and R.A.F. first, to destroy any enemies before they even get to our country. The Royal Navy also projects and enforces Britain’s influence throughout the World, keeps the sea lanes on which we rely on as an island open, and acts as an ambassador for Britain. Britain has a long, proud history of the Navy, it will be great to see the Royal Navy growing again in modern times.

    • I agree in terms of priorities although the army appears to be the branch in the worst state (mostly through complete mismanagement). Their equipment is pretty much obsolete.

    • Stephen, as I understand it the Dreadnaught program first sub follows on hard from the last Astute. So unless we are going to expand the Barrow facilities whilst constructing SSN and SSBN subs, or start up production in another yard. There will be no more Astutes this side of the Dreadnaught class hitting the water. I would like to see work begin on the follow on to Astute as soon as the final astute is complete. That production run should be to increase the SSN fleet to 12 or so.
      I don’t see the re-introduction of SSK into the Royal Navy happening, a whole new training and support line.
      A number of OPV’s from the Appledore Yard would do wonders for its future, but the manning crisis has to be the number one priority. Without that there is no point in further hulls.

    • I would go further Stephen, The UK force is now of a size that it should be collapsed into a single entity. We can have 5 commands of circa.45k personnel (4 deployable +HQ).
      Each Command will have the necessary assets (land, sea, air, cyber, space) to carry out its tasking and will rotate through deployments and readiness in a managed way.

      This will require a major structural reform of the military but will make for a leaner more integrated joint force. Whilst the underlying forces will remain in name only, the way they operate and are commanded will change dramatically.

      This will see a move to a smaller land force with more resource to the Navy, as well as the integration of the RM into that land force. Big savings can be made on joint basing where possible and streamlining the chain of command.

      The USMC and IDF have this model and are very successful, I know people don’t like this idea but we have to change the dynamic of our forces and re-organise. The RM remain the RM and still do Sea based ops, they are just under an integrated command for that tasking.

      7 Astutes is the minimum required (1 for each SSBN and 1 for each QEC + maintenance), but I think we could go to 10 if the money was there and I do think the workers of Barrow could accommodate that.

      • Stephen a long time ago now the MoD introduced a fixed share of the budget to be allocated to each of the services. Roughly it comes to a third each. They didn’t do this from military judgement but to try to stop the never intending inter service warfare about who should get what. If you think it’s bad today it was infinitely worse back then. If we want to switch priorities between services we can only do it by expanding or contracting there responsibilities. Either way it would be a nightmare to do without the full support of all the chiefs.

  14. the chancellor stated that the government will no longer use PFI contracts (horse and bolted are phrases that come to mind) … could AirTanker be persuaded that it is in their interest to now plumb a few of the fleet for booms, especially given the fact that the limited number of P8s are going to be very busy, and ASW is the current focus

  15. (Chris H) – Just like to add some observations if I may?

    The £1 Bn is EXTRA cash and for the remainder of this year and next. We have just 5 months left of 2018 / 19 so it is spread over 17 months.

    The cash for Dreadnought (£800 Mn) is additional to this money and is a draw down from the Treasury £10 Bn contingency funding to keep manufacturing going on long lead items.

    It is also worth noting the very major steps taken on VAT for charities helping Veterans (£10 Mn), the granting of £70 Mn for the DNRC and £1.7 Mn to educate youngsters on the Holocaust as we head towards the 75th anniversary of British Troops liberating Bergen – Belsen camp

    And of course as always I have to refer people (like Labour’s Admiral Lord West) who say ‘ not enough’ to where this country was economically in 2010 (no political point being made) and the huge amount of new kit our Forces have had, and are having, delivered in the last 8 years despite that.

  16. The chancellor stated that there will be no more PFI contracts. (horse and bolted are phrases that come to mind) … but could this be a spur to Airtanker to plumb a few of the fleet for booms, now that ASW is clearly high up on the agenda, and so be able to support the very small number of P8s on order …

  17. It is good news.

    But remember the overseas aid budget for two or so years would practically pay for Dreadnought. And that is money we borrow and for which see no tangible results unlike investment in UK industry to support UK defence.

  18. It’s good news. What happens after the review reports will be crucial. Stay as we are, funding wise, and there will be some erosion of capability. 3% is ideal but will never happen. What is possible and should mean we retain top tier capability is a plan to increase spending as proportion of gdp over next 5 years to more like 2.3% (and maybe a bit more)…let’s keep up the good fight!

  19. Defra and mmo may well task the fisheries, however the economic well being and other associated Operations still stand. Losing the FPS would be severely detrimental on a number of levels. The loss of MOD SAR is now being felt amongst the rotary wing community, The reduction in the availability of aircraft to undertake secondary capabilities is being noticed, an area which is not been covered by existing front line helicopter squadrons in both FAA And RAF. There are no additional “soft” units or departments that can be cut.

    • “aircraft to undertake secondary capabilities”

      Something which was flagged up at the time by a good number. It was a daft move. Cost of everything, value of nowt as always. 🙂

  20. I think this is a step in the right direction and according to mr Hammond the main spending reviews are to come next year though !? it does seem a bit incredulous for defence as the MDP is taking place now (unless it is to be extended even longer!).If we’re to stand-alone post brexit then global engagement is more important, I believe this will result in an increase in military spending, but unfortunately for those with a defence mind also ensure that the overseas budget will remain. So hopefully the government will see sense and ensure that we have influence across the globe only history will show whatever increase is made will have been enough.
    For me the concentration of spending needs to be that there are enough well armed surface ships to effectively wave the flag, the ability to deploy up to 2 extremely potent carrier battle groups with ssn cover.
    I think the next priority should be the strike brigades I personally would keep Ajax in the armoured brigades and potentially turn some of Sv variants in to standard apcs maybe eventually replace FV432. (As long as wscp and Challenger 2 enhancements remain cost effective then status quo). The equipment from Sv could then be used in a recce version of Boxer, funding should be found for all other roles direct fire, artillery etc. They need to be serious fighting formations in my view, enough shipping should be in place to deploy a whole bridgade (rapidly) globally with the ability to deploy a vanguard by air along with 16 air Assault Brigade with enough typhoons to provide air cover both CAS and defence. The RMs need to be enhanced being able to deploy units from the new flexible ships such t26 and t31 this could nip potential crisis in the bud especially in Africa and places where there are real peer opponents.They also need to be able to kick the door in to allow deployment of strike. I can’t see any point of carriers without the ability to deploy ground troops and neither can the us navy hence the size of the Marine Corps and assets. If we’re to influence our allies and enemies need to know we mean business and not just deploy token forces.
    Also I can’t help thinking that there maybe some sense in developing a separate home defence force for all tasks in the uk this would mean that people who avoid joining the forces due to deployment could contribute at home and gain experience, there could be less stringent fitness requirements Then there could be progression routes and incentives to join the global forces? They could still deploy in state of war etc. maybe even separate budget? Combined with coastguard, border agency etc.? The assets would need less defensive aids etc. But could be upgraded if need be…

    • Simon, as per my previous comment on organisation I totally agree.

      The UK really does need to re-organise its force structure and for me it should look something like this:

      1. Expeditionary Forces (High Readiness – RM, QEC CBG’s)
      2. Standing Tasks 1 (Global Ops)
      3. Standing Tasks 2 (NATO Ops)
      4. Home Defence Force (CASD, QRF etc)
      5. UKDF HQ

      As I have said above – each of these needs to be a separate command and have all assets they need to do their role aligned to that command. No need for separate commands for Navy etc. the. world doesn’t work like that any more. We need the combat commanders to be able to call on resources at their disposal when they need them – not when a politician or accountant says they can use them. time for a change

      • Paceman interesting concepts- if these were merged into one “armed forces” instead of 3 separate, but supposedly aligned forces, we might actually get somewhere.
        Imagine the efficiency savings of only having one group of flag officers, senior ranks and one logistics command.
        No more wing commanders and group captains outnumber jet aircraft in the RAF. No more admirals outnumber warships in the RN, no more generals and brigadiers outnumber infantry battalions.
        Also crucially we would get rid of inter service rivalry in one brush stroke. Thus fleet air arm getting F35B would be applauded by UK armed forces plc as no longer an RAF.
        I know there is huge history behind our tri services but we have to end the plain craziness of this situation and go for efficiency and ruthlessly interlinking all 3 arms of our armed forces so they train, develop and fight as one.

        • Parliamentarians and Royalty go through tri-service training, in future that will need to be at least 7 functions (air, land, sea, cyber, star, support and space).

          Whether we like it or not the world is changing and our officer cadets need to have training that makes them open to opportunities (more entrepreneurial if you like). In this regards I am very impressed with the FSL whilst would hold Nick Carter up as someone who is akin to a consultant, all powerpoint, no action.

          By putting the power into 4 matching commands (each with the same structure), we will start to get competition between the divisions and commands, this has to be good. How do they innovate and differentiate with the same core equipment? How do they adapt to the different tasking?

          For me this is the key benefit, you create 4 homogeneous commands and let them manage their tasking as they see fit.

          The best will rise to the top and they get to run the HQ command with all the strategic toys like CASD, Carrier battle groups etc. as well as having overall command.

          We can have a better land force, larger and better navy and more defined ISTAR and Cyber capabilities if we go down this route. but we won’t I suspect

          and it can be done with our current 225k personnel (inc civilians)

      • Basically we need to go back to the FLEET system
        Home fleet, Med Fleet, Pacific etc, NATO, Disaster relief Task forces
        And allocate core assets to each.

  21. We need to establish a proper, armed coastguard which would combine the existing HM Coastguard, the FPS, the Scottish fishery protection assets (unlikely that the Scots would agree to it, I accept), the Border Force marine assets and the various Police marine units.

    There are various operating models to choose from, but the Norwegian model might be best. AFAIK the Norwegian Coastguard is essentially a Home Service branch of the Navy.

    The new Coastguard would control the existing SAR helo assets and ideally have a couple of MPA for SAR, EEZ patrol, etc. to allow the P8s to focus on military tasks, including ASW and ISTAR.

    In terms of ships, we need to procure proper OPVs, similar to the Rolls Royce UT512 class in service with Norway and Iceland. These vessels can act as Emergency Towing Vessels (ETV), a capability I believe the UK government scrapped years ago as a cost cutting measure. The Batch 2 Rivers are ‘over-engineered’ for the UK EEZ OPV role, as well as under-armed for anything else.

    Minimal armament is required as these ships would be operating in home waters – the 20mm BMARC cannon fitted to the current FPS ships would be sufficient. The OPVs’ main ‘weapon’ would be an armed VBSS team.

    The reality is that we will probably have to use the Rivers, both Batches 1 & 2, in this role, but an additional couple of UT512-Type vessels would be useful, especially post-BREXIT, and could eventually replace the Batch 1 Rivers. Given the size of our EEZ, I believe we should have a minimum of 12 of these ships.

    If we build these ships with a decent crane and working deck, they could even be used used for MCM in home waters.

  22. I really don’t think a combined military system would work, Canada tried it and as far as I’m aware it was a complete failure. Although previously quoted the USMC example of tri service is not a true reflection, as their overall tasking remains focused on mobile infantry insertion via sea. They simply have more in house tools to assist this narrow focused role, akin to the Apache helos of Army Air Corp supporting the infantry. Again using the American example they maintain the fleet air wings within the Navy as this is where the expertise sits and matures. The thought of a tri service is attractive to the bean counters, however not practical for operational purposes. There would not be command savings as there would be an increase in personnel to understand the whole military operational capability, no one department let alone person could understand the concept of ssbn, ASW, amphibious lift, AARefuelling, flight logistics, tank deployments, sam batteries, seabourne AA tactics etc etc etc.

  23. Basil

    A single force structure doesn’t necessarily equate to the one size fits all – it is more nuanced than that. We will still have a navy, army etc but they will work under a single command – much as an amphibious force would do and has done for the UK previously. What it does do is it aligns operational capability to the force commander across all spectrums of capability and ultimately our senior commands need to become adept at multi domain warfare.

    Yes it may not work, especially with poor leadership, but with a force of less than 200k personnel (comparable in size to the USMC) and a civilian staff of circa 50k, we simply can’t carry the massive overheads of different services and their disparate requirements.

    Better to have a force that can meet our future needs with a larger air, navy, cyber and ISTAR forces and a sharper focus for our land forces (which I personally see as expeditionary in nature), than continue with our legacy organisational structure.
    The USMC do what they do on circa $26bn pa. (audited accounts) covering 192k personnel. The MOD gets £36bn pa or double the USMC corps budget, so you would think we could put out a similar capability to them, plus CASD, a navy, some air assets and a central staff.

    Commands will always have a diverse range of skills and capabilities within them, ultimately this will not change. what will change is that the assets of each command will be identical and that the command corp will over time have to cycle through each capability to ensure they do understand the different capabilities. In 10 years time we will have a new breed of officer that manages information and makes decisions based upon a multi service junior career (similar to members of parliament and royalty have) and are more rounded and better for it.

    The alternative is the same disjointed organisation that is eating itself for funding. I for one wants to see a robust and healthy military that is an employer of choice. That is not the case at this point in time I am afraid, its just stuck in the past.

  24. Good points about the USMC. It would be a dream if we could have armed forces like them. But there are just too many snouts in our defence trough for us ever to get there. The day we have Squadron leaders (rather than wing commanders) commanding sqds of 24 combat ready aircraft (rather than 2 or 3) will be a positive step.

  25. The whole top heaviness of our forces is a topic that makes my blood boil, I spend a lot of time moving round different units and you will be surprised how many senior officers are doing desk “None-Jobs” just to tick them over until a command post becomes available. We are talking people earning 50k-60k a year doing a job that a corporal can do with a little training. The RAF are the worst for it, every other warm body has gold on their shoulders. We should have a two tier pay system, if you are in command of personnel in a combat role (not many people) then the pay should be substantially higher than those doing admin jobs. We can genuinely afford to lose 50% Colonel and above and still manage, unfortunately big decisions like that are made by the very same people.


    • Spot on. But it will take politicians and civil servants with guts to take them on. The chiefs came up the food chain that way and they will fight to the death to keep it that way.


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