“2% of national income to be spent on defence”
– George Osborne
July 8th 2015
In a move that will no doubt please its NATO allies especially the United States, George Osborne has confirmed in his budget speech to Parliament today that the UK will meet its 2% GDP spending target on defence. After months of political hand waving and hoodwinking over the matter today the Conservative government has bowed to pressure from both home and abroad to keep Britain’s defence spending above 2% as required by NATO.
Many observers speculated over remarks made by Prime Minister David Cameron and Defence Secretary Michael Fallon in recent weeks that Britain would be reducing its defence spending to below the 2% requirement pointing out that at present only eight of the twenty-eight members of the alliance meet the target. This has seriously concerned the United States which feels its armed forces are being called upon to make up the shortfall in capability in Europe especially in light of increased Russian tension. This was dramatically highlighted when Britain was forced to ask for US and NATO assistance in locating an unidentified submarine operating in Scottish waters in December 2014. David Cameron has been so eager to appease American fears that his government has even invited a US official to undertake an ‘observer’ role in the upcoming defence and security review.
So what can the Ministry of Defence expect to see in the coming Strategic Defence and Security Review 2015;
- Earlier this year it was announced that the MoD was finally looking in to a replacement for the Nimrod maritime patrol aircraft which was axed in 2010 without a replacement. However no clear details on just what shape the replacement will take has yet been given and will probably not be made available until after the review.
- In the run up to the general election David Cameron confirmed his belief in replacing Britain’s Trident submarine force in a like-for-like capacity. It is therefore quite possible that plans for this to happen will take place soon.
- The chances of an increase in the number of full-time military personnel is unlikely with greater emphasis on reserve forces.
- The Army’s primary MBT, the Challenger II will be needing to complete its service life extension program if it is to remain a potent tank. However at present it is unclear just how many of the 227 vehicles will receive the upgrade. What is clear is it won’t be all of them.
- With renewed hostility over the Falklands and Gibraltar serious assessment of the defence posture of both islands and their political and economic value will have to be considered.
- In the wake of the Tunisia shootings the RAF and British special forces are likely to be heavily involved in operations against Islamic State and so funding will need to be made available to that end.