The Ministry of Defence has published plans to spend over £186bn in the next ten years in its 2018 Defence Equipment Plan, let’s take a look at what it contains.

The plan, found here, also outlines £935m in increased forecast costs for major infrastructure projects during 2017/18. These include an increase of £458m for HMS Queen Elizabeth and her F-35B jets. The rise in F-35B costs were attributed to changes in exchange rates, although the MoD say that these changes ‘were anticipated’.

‘Since 2015 the world has become more uncertain, volatile and dangerous at a faster rate than predicted’

Defence Equipment Plan 2018

The MoD has managed to offset cost increases with cost reductions elsewhere, notably on the Poseidon MRA1 programme (£207m), Apache ‘Sustainment Programme’ (£132m), and the Type 26 frigates (£104m).

A headline failure for the MoD has been the upgrade plans for the Warrior infantry fighting vehicle. This programme is now 13 months behind schedule, and £62m over-budget.

Despite the cost reductions, the National Audit Office (NAO) stated that the MoD’s plan ‘remains unaffordable and is not sustainable if the Department wants to deliver longer-term value for money’. The MoD were however praised for being ‘more transparent than in previous years’.

The MoD forecasts spending £193bn on equipment in the next ten years, £7bn above its £186bn budget for that period. The NAO warned that in a ‘worst case scenario’, this gap could rise to £14.8bn. This figure is however lower than the £20.8bn worst case scenario forecast in January 2018.

The MoD must decide ‘which programmes to defer, de-scope or delete as soon as possible’ according to the NAO.

Minister for Defence Procurement Stuart Andrew said he was “grateful” for the NAO’s report. He said ministers would be “rigorously pursuing productivity and efficiency gains” and “prioritising capabilities to meet the changing threat environment”.

Shadow Defence Secretary Nia Griffith said: “This report on the Government’s Defence Equipment Plan is very damning.

“We need proper investment in our nation’s defences, not just political posturing from the Defence Secretary. You cannot do security on the cheap”.

She added “it is high time that Conservative Ministers stopped relying on unrealistic efficiency savings and got to grips with the huge affordability gap in the Defence Equipment plan”.

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Once Brexit is sorted out I think the exchange rate will swing back in the our favor so may cover a good chunk of the budget shortfall.

I read through the article to see if it detailed how much has already been invested in the Warrior update program but it did not provide a figure. At £4.1 per vehicle its not much less than purchasing a brand new Boxer APC which makes this program completely unjustifiable. It should be canned immediately and the money reinvest in additional Boxer or Ajax vehicles.


It’s hard to disagree, but the issue is that we’re still going to be relying on the Warrior fleet for at least the next 4-5 years until Ajax and Boxer start entering operational service, and Warrior could very well see service for another decade. Unless we want to take yet another “capability holiday” like the RN did with carriers and the RAF did with MPAs, old platforms like Challenger and Warrior need to be kept in at least an combat effective form


The difference is that the Warrior today is still in service and is still capable. It could soldier on for 4-5 years. Whereas with Nimrod and the CVS that wasn’t possible.


Brexit is the biggest risk to defense in living memory. You might be correct that exchange rates will return to pre brexit levels and support cost savings which will allow defence expenditure to stay as is, or perhaps even rise in future. But it might also be the case that it leads to long term economic recession and forced cuts in government spending across the board. Those carriers might start looking unaffordable in the worst case. I hear that France are looking at future carrier options, so at least we might be able to sell them off without having to… Read more »


It’s happening.
There won’t be be a long term recession due to it.
Just get over it, sore loser.


Sean, I do hope you are wrong and that we might yet reverse what in my opinion is a dreadful act of national self harm. But I wasn’t actually advocating for Brexit to be reversed in that comment, only observing that it creates considerable uncertainty.

We need to wait and see what it looks like. Nobody is able to answer that question at the moment, so how can we be planning for what life will be like after it happens? That is a clear example of wishful thinking.


It’s the desperate tactics of the brexiteers, they’re so worried that their “decision” will be taken away from them. as it should be, considering the result was an anomaly and totally corrupt as you see the Aaron Banks funding fall-out. Hard Brexit will cause major pain for the country and you’re right- slashed budgets. Sooner people recognize this the better and push for referendum 2

Daniele Mandelli

An Anomaly….biggest vote in history talked about, debated, for months with the full endorsement of Parliament is an anomoly. I don’t know Aaron Banks myself, nor do other countless millions. Of course, remain also breaking spending limits and HMG itself spending millions of taxpayers money on a propaganda leaflet full of holes and lies is also CORRUPT is it not. Referendum 2. 3 you mean. We had one in 73. Then waited for the last one. And if we have this “Referendum 2” we will of course need another. Why should anyone respect it when you will not? My rant… Read more »


As someone who voted to remain, I would be very worried about another vote. It would be contentious as it is. However it might be successfully argued that there is far more information now than there was at the time of the original vote, in which case the public might just about accept a second vote. However if that vote then returns a small majority in favour of remain then there would be severe resentment and possibly public order issues. If there was a second vote then it would have to deliver a massive majority in order to be seen… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli

Oh and another thing!

Have a look at Macron’s comments today about an “EU Army”

Nigel Farage has been warning of this for years, and always mocked afterwards.

What is this army he’s on about? Fantasy Army? Donald Duck Army? Maybe it is an army that is not an army? Answers on a postcard.

Daniele Mandelli


Good post.

Even as you write as a remainer. I respect that.


The bad boys of Brexit are associated with some of the most disgusting people on this planet. It sickens me.

Daniele Mandelli

“The bad boys of Brexit are associated with some of the most disgusting people on this planet. It sickens me.”

Leave it out! Far too simplistic a statement.

The majority vote is not “bad boys of Brexit”

In that case there are Remainers who want the IRA honoured, who refuse to condem ISIS, called Jihadi John a “Good Fellow” and who are riddled with “anti Semites”

It works both ways. Good and bad in this world. Does not suddenly make Brexit evil or wrong no matter how you spin it.


The only reason Macron wants a ‘True EU’ army is so that France can bully smaller EU countries into propping up it defense industry.
They are already trying this by pulling R&D money from the EU into joint defense projects controlled by France and Germany.


Ah a good example of the “remainers” idea of democracy! Keep wanting a vote till it goes the way you demand! Stalin and old Adolf would be very proud of your thought process. Muppet!


I’m with Lee1 on this. I voted remain and hold the view that large sections of the electorate were cleverly mislead about the pros and cons of EU membership in the Brexit campaign. But Theresa May is correct when she says delivering on Brexit is a must. What she has spotted is that Brexit is less about our relationship with the EU than it is about rebuilding a relationship of trust between the people and government.


Julian your post is so ironic on a website largely discussing the UK military. After all in the UK our military have fought bravely and paid the ultimate sacrifice to defend something we only secured fully for all our citizens less than 100 years ago. It is called democracy and several of the posters on here who declared they voted remain clearly understand the real importance of respecting the referendum result. There is something very big at stake in ensuring we leave the EU it is trust in the democratic system, which has been sorely tested with the expenses scandals,… Read more »

Major Midget

A lot of what has been said above is rather pitiful. And some of it outright wrong and misguided. Unfortunately, whenever the b-word is mentioned, it follows. There is some aspect of truth to Julian’s words, none of those championing B-word seem very inspired, and paranoia is rife in all quarters over the future and if it goes the way they want. At the same people are not so easily convinced, it is brazen to just say people need to realise mistakes. It is the same mistake made in the referendum, and the truth/optimal solutions are far more complex. I… Read more »

Evan P

It could go either way, I absolutely hope I’m proven wrong about Brexit. One of the main reasons why I’m against it is because I don’t think that anyone in government is capable of getting a good deal, which hasn’t changed, but you never know. It is massive risk as IKN said, you’d be delusional not to see that, but I also agree with Lee that a second referendum wouldn’t really help our situation. Imagine how the EU would react if we went crying back to them!

David E Flandry

I could swear the UK was a world power before becoming part of the European Union. And what about UK defense industries? Several UK defense companies have disappeared since becoming part of the EU, to France and Italy’s gain. British aviation has almost disappeared, and some shipbuilders are gone or become part of BAE.
There will be a couple of years of difficult adjustment after Brexit, but in the long run there is no reason things should not revert to the status quo ante.

Daniele Mandelli

Nia Griffith comment is hilarious. She is using the same words the Tories themselves came out with in the period 1998 to 2009 when Labour was just running the forces into the ground with endless spending cuts, unit cuts, and cancellations. Politicians…. I have no doubt whatsoever things would be far far worse under Corbyn. After all, he has called for an immediate defence review if he gains office. Why? We have had 7 reviews since 1998! Two in the last 4 years, one of which is ongoing. As for the report. It’s pleasing that costs have reduced on several… Read more »

Oscar Zulu

Australia’s equivalent document, the Defence Integrated Investment Program, outlines a 10 year planned equipment expenditure of $200 billion or (110 billion pounds).

Put another way per capita Australia is spending 4453 pounds for each of its 24.7 million population over the next decade while the UK is spending around 2796 pounds for each of its 66.5 million citizens over roughly the same period.

This seems a little light on for a nuclear power and given the UK’s aspirations for a ‘Global Britain’.

Daniele Mandelli

Hardly aspirations. Global Britain is a meaningless catchphrase by HMG to say business as usual after Brexit. The UK, its language, legacy of empire, economic, cultural, political, military ties are already global. As are millions of ex pat citizens. Phrases like Global Britain are needed only for the doubters and those within the UK who would actually see their nation fail rather than Brexit being a success. After all. If Australia can be a successfull independent nation then why the hell cannot the United Kingdom given our P5 and G8 status as one of the world’s biggest economies? That people… Read more »

Oscar Zulu

Political catch phrases aside, the UK has had a very low profile in the Asia Pacific in recent decades. if it views itself as a more significant player in this region post-Brexit the projected level of UK expenditure over the next decade is likely to make achieving a sustained and significant presence more difficult. Currently Australia is outspending the UK by a factor of about 1.5 times on a per capita basis. Given the UK not only needs to expand and recapitalise its conventional forces but also maintain its nuclear deterrent, a not insignificant impost on your defence budget, by… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli

Except Australia does not have nearly 70 million people with all the costs of infrastructure, the NHS, 14 odd billion to the EU per year and a welfare state to match.

I don’t see much change in the UK military profile in east Asia in future years myself, apart from suggestions of the QEC group going there.

By rights yes the UK should be spending far more on defence regardless.

David E Flandry

Australia has health care and infrastructure expenses of its own, and lots of entitlement(welfare) programs, just proportional to the population of 24.5 million and not 66.5 million, plus some expenses are by the states.
I think its reasonable that Australia concentrates on defense in the SE Asia and Western Pacific area, although the UK should have more resources in the region, at least as a trip-wire to activate the 5-power arrangement.

Steve Taylor

The Deterrent doesn’t cost much over its life. Nuclear weapons are cheap. If you spent the money on conventional weapons there wouldn’t be much of an increase.


Australia definitely seems to be on a spending spree in terms of ordering new equipment. Barracuda, Type 26, Boxer, Hawkie, CV90 or Lynx (probably Lynx), F35. That’s on top of the Hobart class and Canberra class ships. They are definite one of the best equipped military’s in the world.

Cam Hunter

ok but they don’t have the numbers….


The Australians are having to spend to make up capabilities that they should have had historically. It’s a bit of an anomaly. Look at what they have at present and compare it to what the UK has. Whilst impressive, its making up for decades of underinvestment.

Oscar Zulu

Yes. We are not holding our breath expecting a UK presence, though you are always welcome. 🙂 A couple of ‘furphys’ though to address. Australia has its own significant infrastructure challenges, exacerbated by our vast distances and low population density. The UK is not Robinson Crusoe in that regard. Same, same but different problems. Australia spends more per capita again on health care than the UK ($4708 USD vs $4192) while maintaining a hybrid public/private system with free hospitals and bulk billing GPs for any one who can’t afford private health cover, much the same as the NHS. The divorce… Read more »

Steve Taylor

The Warrior figure is interesting. How much as new Ajax? How much a new Boxer? Different class and different purpose but you could buy four Griffon for that much.

There will be some weird logic behind it.

Daniele Mandelli

Weird logic?

Or some backhander somewhere in MoD, army government where ex military become directors in the MIC and know what buttons to push and where.

Griffon? That escaped me? Will look it up.


The boxer is around £4.3mm based on what Germany paid for its last order. Griffon isn’t really comparable it’s built on a commercial chassis and more of an mrap replacement.

Steve Taylor

Well there is always some ‘reason’ why something costs more than buying new……..

We would have been better off with something far simpler for the Warrior upgrade program. Instead of going for an IFV we should have simply made them into APC’s. No new gun. No new turret, just an armoured structured. I was happy with the rest of the programme.

Anthony D

I think it’s time we ditched full spectrum capability. We’re part a solid, long term and capable military alliance. Let’s therefore plan our capability in that context. We do not need a a number of capabilities to defend the UK, specifically armoured manoeuvre or even a deployable division. If a single enemy tank brigade has gotten ashore then European NATO has been overrun and we have lost air and sea dominance. It’s a tough call but we should completely disinvest in tanks, self propelled artillery, warrior upgrade, bulldog, etc. I say this also because we cannot afford to keep these… Read more »

Steve Taylor

The deterrent is cheap. Building nuclear submarines does more the economy than building 1000 tanks here at home would ever do. No a nuclear cruise missile isn’t the same as a warhead delivered by ballistic missile; it is pretty difficult to stop the latter and the former against a peer wouldn’t get very far. A surface ship isn’t really safe as a nuclear weapons carrier for that role. Astute might be safe-ish, but you are back to cruise not being up to the job. If you were to spend the entire nuclear arms budget on conventional weapons you would hardly… Read more »

Meirion X

There are No economies of scale in building Dreadnought, with only 4 to be built!
Build Stretched Astute’s instead, only £2 billion per sub.
Only USA needs Trident D5 because of vast space of ocean between it’s adversary’s.
The USA is building 12 new Columbia class subs. That is an example of economies of scale!

Anthony D

Steve. You need to more carefully read what I wrote.

Anthony D

Building more subs does more than building more tanks… I said build more astute and retire tanks. Cruise isn’t the same as ICBM… I never said it was, in fact I said it was a lessor deterrent but in my view acceptable. Casd isn’t ‘cheap’. It is the main cost pressure on the equipment programme and would be enough to nearly double our astute, type 26 numbers, Poseidon buy and more. That would be noticed. It’s not just casd that keeps us at the ‘top table’. It’s our defence budget, alliances, legacy of bases, diplomacy, global reach and willingness to… Read more »

Steve Taylor

Sorry. I read your post from bottom upwards. I thought you said invest in tanks.

Yes the Legacy of Empire means we are still one of the world’s premier soft powers. As does our top ten economy. And sadly for you our ability to throw a dustbin sized object to the other side of the globe with a CEP of 150m. Our defence budget not so much. Yes we spend it on training, not kit, but no sorry. We are SSN’s aside, a second tier power.

Mr Bell

Interesting spreadsheet/ list. When you zoom in on it. No mention of type 31 frigate or numbers of frigates. No mention of further F35Bs. Surely not going to be left with only 48 in active service?


I reckon its a done deal. USMC F-35s will routinely supply additional aircraft flying from QE carriers when we need to embark more than a dozen or so.


Try reading the heading to the table. Or the document itself.

Really trying hard not to call you an idiot.

Steve Taylor

They were never ever going to buy more than 60.

Meirion X

If the UK does Not buy the number of F-35’s that it committed to buy, that is 138, the USA will end tier 1 partnership, with it the 15% share of total revenue. We only just need another unfriendly president like Obama, who said to the UK ‘Get to the back of the queue’!! They could also end our access to the pool of leased Trident missiles as well!

David steeper

Meirion you mean they’l switch most of the maintenance work to Italy and Turkey ? Oh right they already have !


No mention of T31e Frigate I see …


Definitely at risk. I reckon the River 2s will do the global constabulary duties and we will see Dutch escorts making up the numbers in the carrier task force. Could put 2 to sea at one time then perhaps?

Steve Taylor



Type 31 is listed as a funded project: 1.25b for the ships and a further 250m for non-platform stuff.


I retract my statement , on reflection I have found it in the document, my apologies


Cool bro


What is the difference being on the funded projects list? Surely the f31 is still in early design phase and so costs could and probably will sky rocket before any of them actually enters service. More spin by the MOD or is the time frame considered out of scope due to time before order will be placed?


T31 is due to be in service by 2023, so ahead of the T26. As soon as the winner is selected work is expected to start pretty much immediately.
If an item is not on the list it means its not going to be delivered essentially. For example Taranis is still nothing more than a technology demonstrator which will likely funnel into tempest now as I don’t see the UK developing both.


I thought the current plan was for the t31 to enter service added the t26, which is why there is no hurry on the final design?


Hmmmm, I wouldn’t say Dreadnought is cheap. Estimated acquisition costs of over £40bn over 10 years, of which £10bn is a contingency. And the MOD expect to claw back £10bn over the latter stage of the acquisition programme(!). This is kicking the can down the road. Programmes of this scale rarely deliver that type of saving, as the contingency of that size suggests there are too many unknowns to forecast with any confidence. This is pure MOD fantasy, not to mention 6% of MOD budget for in life costs over 30 years, based on 2018/19 GDP growth and a growing… Read more »


“The bad boys of Brexit are associated with some of the most disgusting people on this planet. It sickens me.” The Left wing liberals here in America says the exact same thing when they loose a vote. They say all the people that voted for Trump are stupid idiots and much, much worse. The Democrats and the Hollywood elite are still crying and it’s been over 2 years. When they don’t get their way they start spouting out vicious threats and saying how the other side is a bunch of racists and how America is doomed. They ignore the lowest… Read more »

John M

Remove the nuclear component from the plan & you have virtually the same expenditure as the overseas development budget over the same period. Imagine what we could gain with that additional investment in the UK.


Lots of people thinking River OPVs can replace proper warships. In peacetime, yes, but once war starts you’ve got naval personel tied up in extremely vulnerable ships with nil ASW, nil CIWS, nil SAM, next to no AAA or surface gun etc. Most other nations have at least a medium gun. That gives basic surface, AA & even CIWS ability(oto 76mm for example). It may cost a bit more, but a basic weapons fit makes them far more survivable. USCG also adds phalanx ciws.


I don’t have the link available, but apparently the River OPV’s are very quiet (for an OPV anyway) and could be fitted with a containerised sonar for ASW. The gun could also be upgraded but I don’t think its necessary in its current role (it should be remotely operated though).
Not putting a hanger on them was ridiculous especially for how much they cost. They would do a great job for patroling EEZ, fishery protection, drug trafficking, human trafficking and anti piracy which we need substantially more ships for.

Peter french

Its a bit rich for the Shadow Defence Minister to spout garbage such as defence does,nt come on the cheap and that sort of criticism but whats the betting that Labour would slash spending should they come to power, God forbid


The Pound is weak because the US Fed Reserve has raised interest rates to over 2% while Carney & the BoE have sat on their hands keeping UK base rate at 0.75%.


The country is in use debt both public sector and housing market wise and increasing the interest rate would be pretty lethal, as cost of debt raises with it.


Yes, but every day you leave interest rates at 0.75%, the problem gets worse, as individuals, companies, governments over borrow, leading to a bigger crash when it inevitably comes. Carney should have raised UK base rate to 1.25%. That is a good compromise between borrowers & savers. It would not crash the economy. It would strengthen the Pound, thus cutting fuel prices which are in Dollars. If the World’s money men think the UK is not serious about protecting the Pound, then they collapse it, forcing the Bank of England to raise interest rates 2% in a day (see 1992).… Read more »