This article is part of an 8 part UK Defence Journal series on the MoD Annual Report and Accounts. The full document can be found here

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) recently published their Annual Report and Accounts 2017/18. The document aims to give a performance report, structured through 4 key objectives:

  1. Protect Our People
  2. Project Our Global Influence
  3. Promote Our Prosperity
  4. Manage the Department of State and the Defence Enterprise

The MoD’s success in fulfilling these objectives is assessed in the document. Following this, there is the accountability report, and finally the annual accounts record.

In this first article, I summarise the key successes of the Ministry of Defence in 2017/18. These will also be covered to a greater depth later in the series.

The report begins with an introduction from the Secretary of State for Defence, Gavin Williamson. In it, he reminds the reader of the government’s duty to defend its people.

‘The first duty of Government is to defend our country and to keep our people safe’

The Rt Hon Gavin Williamson, Secretary of State for Defence

He then argues that threat levels have increased since the Strategic Defence and Security Review 2015. He concludes by headlining MoD achievements, as well as stating that the UK defence industrial sector supports 260,000 jobs.

Departmental Structure

This section may be an unnecessary read for some, but I felt it important to include. The MoD covers all matters that are the direct responsibility of the Secretary of State for Defence. At its most basic, Defence is made up of two parts:

    1. Department of State: the government department responsible for delivering defence. It is funded by Parliment, and answers both to them and the Prime Minister
    2. Armed Forces: the professional organisations led by the Chief of the Defence Staff. This delivers military capability to the Department of State

Notable achievements

The MoD continued to support the international coalition that has led to Da’esh losing over 98% of the territory they once controlled in Iraq and Syria.

In 2017/18, the MoD also doubled the number of UK troops deployed on UN Peacekeeping Missions. The UK has trained over 7,000 Ukrainian Armed Forces personnel.

The MoD also deployed 2,100 personnel to provide hurricane relief in the Caribbean, and provided military aid to civil authorities on over 130 occasions, including the Salisbury chemical attack in March 2018.

‘We maintain an extensive global network with 146 Defence Attaché posts, 17 Loan Service Teams and exchange officers deployed across the world’

MoD Annual Report and Accounts 2017/18

£1.2bn has been invested in the Dreadnought Submarine Programme, the future replacement for the Vanguard class. In September 2017, the MoD published their National Ship Building strategy (found here), and also launched a new ‘Supplier Portal’ for small and non-traditional defence suppliers.

Between April 2015 and January 2018, the MoD enrolled 37,466 Civil Service and Armed Forces apprentices, a further support to UK jobs.

Finance summary

The MoD operated with a new Director General Finance in 2017/18: Cat Little. She is the principal financial advisor for defence, and a qualified accountant who started her career at PwC.

In 2017/18, the MoD’s Departmental Expenditure Limit (DEL) – the amount of expenditure the MoD can control – for ‘the Core programme, Operations, and Peacekeeping’ was £36.9Bn. The outturn was slightly less, at £35.8Bn.

The MoD quoted their total spending at £36.61Bn. This includes:

    1. £8.97Bn on Service Personnel
    2. £0.80Bn on Operations and Peacekeeping
    3. £6.55Bn on Equipment Support
    4. £9.43Bn Capital Expenditure

Expenditure achievements

The new Ajax armoured vehicle began to progress through its final acceptance process. The MoD signed a deal to provide 50 Apache helicopters through a Foreign Military Sales agreement with the US.

HMS Queen Elizabeth was commissioned and commenced helicopter trials. RFA Tidespring also entered service, while Tidesurge and Tiderace arrived in the UK. Steel was cut for HMS Glasgow, the first of the new T26 Frigates, and the contract for the seventh Astute class submarine, HMS Agincourt, was finalised.

‘A vital part of our ISTAR Force, it provides critical information and understanding to decision-makers in an increasingly complex, congested and contested battlespace’

Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier on ‘Airseeker’

Under Project Centurion, the RAF have continued to upgrade their Typhoon aircraft. The RAF took delivery of 12 F-35 Lighting, as well as launching its first ever satellite, Carbonite-II.

The ‘Airseeker’ capability, which comprises of 3 RC-135W Rivet Joint aircraft was declared fully operational ahead of schedule.

Every public sector department ultimately has to deliver ‘value for money’. For £36.61Bn, the MoD is incredibly successful in doing so.

2017/18 was a remarkably busy year for Defence. The achievements highlighted above are just a few headliners from a 220 page long document full of achievements and successes; these will all be covered later in this series.

From defeating Da’esh in Iraq and Syria, to delivering vital humanitarian support in the wake of Hurricane Irma, to supporting civil authorities in the wake of high profile incidents, the men and women in Defence have had an extraordinarily successful year.

Please monitor my Twitter @hthjones or this site for the articles in the coming days that will look more in depth at the MoD’s Annual Report.


  1. Financial definitions – House of Commons: Finance glossary
0 0 vote
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Sceptical Richard

Could’ve, should’ve, would’ve done better. But we are where we are. We all wish more resources were allocated to Defence. Recruitment, retention and morale remain key issues. But all in all, well done MOD! Compared to others we’re not in such a bad place.

Mr Bell

Agree the MOD is doing marginally better than most of our “EU allies and friends” in NATO. We have so much potential with the kit and technology at the UKs disposal we just need a reasonable uplift in the defence budget to capitalise. Going to 2.5% GDP to defence ratio now and moving towards 3% would deliver exactly what we need as a confident outward looking independent nation. Strength in real military hard power delivers alliances and a wish to invest in good relations and trade from other nations. (Except our EU allies that is) Contentious I know but I… Read more »


France has a bigger defence budget than the UK.


Their 2018 budget was €34.2 billion.


A quick Google renders that statement false.


And once again the UK is near the bottom of the table in percentage of its Defence budget spent on new equipment.

Basically because recent chancellors like Osborne stuffed the budget with non military items like pensions for retired MoD staff in order to fake out the 2% target.

Henry Jones

Agree somewhat, although it is worth noting that when NATO independently audit member budgets, they exclude pension payments. The UK remains above 2% regardless.


It’s encouraging to see that the type 31e is planned to build one every 12 months to hit the target 5 and to continue doing so. Clearly the government of the day could rescind this but at £250 a unit they are quite affordable.


until we know what the t31 will look like and more importantly what sensors and weapons will be included in the 250m target, it’s impossible to say if it’s affordable or not. If they turn out to be opv under another name with no realistic war fighting capability, then no we can’t afford such glamour items, no matter how useful they could he in peace times.

Andy G

China is pumping out far more capable destroyers at 2 a month.


China had almost bottomless natural resources and zero worker rights. They can build ships at a fraction of the price of the West and significantly faster. China is a tier 1 superpower, we shouldn’t be concerning ourselves with them as we can’t even dream of matching them, without bankrupting the country, as we did to win the two world wars, but in peace time it would be stupid.

We are now level 3 or 4, in regards of countries we could realistically take on solo.

[…] and Accounts. The first article, entitled ‘Achievements and summary’, can be found here. The full document can be found […]

Jeremy Jarvis

What an extraordinary perversion of our British Constitution! The MOD now claims as a Department of State to “answer to Parliament and, ultimately, to the Prime Minister through the Secretary of State for Defence.” The arrogance of that “ultimately” is breathtaking. Constitutionally, of course, the Crown in Parliament is sovereign and the sentence should be inverted: MOD answers to the Prime Minister through the S of S and ultimately to Parliament. That’s why we make this report to Parliament. I’m surprised it has not been rejected and MOD asked to show again…


Just to settle one point or order on something said by whoever Ron5 / Brown / Frank said
Russian Federation
USD 143Bn more than the UK in years 2010 to 2017
USD 41Bn more than the UK in years 2010 to 2017
USD 83Bn less than the UK in years 2010 to 2017
USD 186Bn less than the UK in years 2010 to 2017

This is not taking sides, the organization making these measurements have been doing this since 1945 to present day although they have only published data up to 2017

Keith Sware

Hi Jeremy I have no idea what you are talking about: – Quote: The MOD now claims???, Quote: Secretary of State for Defence – Are you talking about the United States? The MOD has to represent itself at Nb 10 along with all the other government departments; it is the elected government that controls, decides and manages for the period of the elected term of up to 5 years. The government has the authority to direct the armed forces to engage in humanitarian missions, in war or push the red button. These powers are constitutional with the elected government although… Read more »