Boris Johnson has set out a £16.5 billion increase in defence spending over four years as he said the UK faces a “perilous” period for global security.
The plans include the creation of an agency dedicated to artificial intelligence, and a “space command” capable of launching the UK’s first rocket by 2022.
Measures set out by the Prime Minister, who addressed MPs remotely as he continues his period of coronavirus self-isolation, include:
– Restoring the UK’s position as the “foremost naval power in Europe”, including the deployment of aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth to the Mediterranean, Indian Ocean and East Asia next year.
– Reshaping the Army for an age of “networked warfare” and strengthening the capabilities of special forces.
– A £1.5 billion investment in military research and development.
– A new fighter system for the RAF, using artificial intelligence and drone technology to “defeat any adversary in air-to-air combat”.
Mr Johnson said the increase in defence spending is necessary to ensure the UK’s place on the global stage.
“Extending British influence requires a once-in-a-generation modernisation of our Armed Forces and now is the right time to press ahead,” he said.
At a time when National debt levels might reach 105% of GDP as a result of Government spending to support the UK through the coronavirus pandemic, according to the Treasury’s senior civil servant, many were left wondering if this was money well spent.