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Defence and Security Strategy

Secretary Hammond

Source: MoD

Soldiers in action in the virtual simulation Photos: MoD

Vigilance can report that the MoD last week published details of how it would  equip the Army, Royal Navy and RAF over the next ten years and how this would be funded.

As our International Defence Correspondence have noted, the Government for the first time, set out a comprehensively-funded Defence Equipment Plan totalling almost £160Bn and the affordability of this plan they  observed had been duly scrutinized by the National Audit Office (NAO) as their independent analysis was also published last week.

Also, Vigilance learnt that the NAO made clear that the MoD had:

  • “substantially revised the way it compiles and manages the Equipment Plan and is now approaching the task on a more prudent basis”;
  • “taken difficult decisions to address what was estimated to be a £74Bn gap between its forecast funding and costs”;
  • “taken significant positive steps designed to deal with the accumulated affordability gap and lay the foundations for stability going forward”;

And concluded that if it continues along this path:

  • “the Department will be able to demonstrate it has really turned a corner.”

A source at the MoD remembers that the publication of the Equipment Plan follows the Defence Secretary’s announcement last year that the Defence budget had been balanced for the first time in more than a decade and that the MoD was taking a new approach to financial planning.

Our MoD source reveals that within the equipment and equipment support budget of around £160Bn over the next ten years, Philip Hammond has introduced for the first time a contingency of £4.8Bn to manage cost variation and protect existing projects, adding within the £160Bn, £8Bn is currently unallocated, whilst noting this will be allocated as new equipment priorities emerged over the decade and only once the MoD is confident that they are affordable and therefore, deliverable.

He said priorities would be decided by the Armed Forces Committee, chaired by the Chief of the Defence Staff.

Structuring the Defence Equipment Plan and the budget that supports it in this way will enable the MoD to deliver Future Force 2020.

The Equipment Plan includes the following major investments in state of the art military capabilities and their support over the next ten years:

  • £35.8Bn on submarines and the deterrent, including a total of seven Astute Class attack submarines and developing a replacement for Vanguard Class ballistic missile submarines;
  • £18.5Bn on combat air, including Lightning II and Typhoon fast jets and UAVs;
  • £17.4Bn on ships, including Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers, six new Type 45 destroyers and the development of the Type 26 Global Combat Ship;
  • £13.9Bn on aircraft for air-to-air refuelling, passenger and heavy lift, such as Voyager and A400M;
  • £12.3Bn on armoured fighting vehicles, including Warrior, Scout and other land equipment;
  • £12.1Bn on helicopters, including Chinook, Apache, Puma and Wildcat; and
  • £11.4Bn on weapons, for example, missiles, torpedoes and precision guided bombs.

Vigilance learnt that the Defence Equipment Plan gives the Defence industry more information than ever before about the MoD’s priorities to enable them to invest in the capabilities the military will require.

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond who was visibly delighted said:“It is essential that our forces are fully equipped to respond to the range of threats we face in this uncertain world. This £160Bn Equipment Plan will ensure the UK’s Armed Forces remain among the most capable and best equipped in the world, providing the military with the confidence that the equipment they need is fully funded. For the first time in a generation the Armed Forces will have a sustainable equipment plan.”

Secretary Hammond added: “Step by step, we are clearing up years of mismanagement under the last Government by ending the culture of over-promising and under-delivering that created a multi billion pound black hole in the Defence budget. Today’s NAO report confirms that we were right to take the difficult decisions to cut unaffordable expenditure and balance the books.”

Whilst Chief of the Defence Staff, General Sir David Richards noted: “Successful operations rely on a proper equipment programme based on sustained funding into the future. Through the Armed Forces Committee to the Defence Board, all three Services now have greater input and more certainty than ever before about what equipment they will have and when.”

Sir Richards added: “The clarity provided by the Equipment Plan builds on the confidence in the budget and shows that Future Force 2020 is affordable and achievable. Our Armed Forces will have the capabilities to respond to global threats and provide the nation’s defence.”

Also in another development last week, soldiers from the 2nd Battalion the Royal Welsh (2 R WELSH) completed the British Army’s largest ever virtual simulation exercise.

Exercise URBAN WARRIOR 5 uses advanced science and technology as part of a cutting-edge experiment designed to help the Army better understand the battlefield of the future.

A source at the MoD said using virtual simulation at the Land Warfare Centre in Warminster, the Royal Welsh are pioneering future force training, adding as many as 190 soldiers fought various scenarios, with their every action monitored by a sophisticated system of computers and advanced simulation software.  He said all information was collected for further analysis by the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) and Niteworks Partnership who had developed the simulation programme.

Brigadier Simon Deakin, Director Army Force Development enthused: “This experiment gives us a unique view into what is required for the British Army to operate successfully on future operations. By testing our soldiers in a number of demanding scenarios we can determine the optimum tactics, equipment and training that are required for us to shape the Army of the future.”

Corporal Jeremy Appiah, Section Commander in 2 R WELSH, said: “The exercise is an excellent way to develop our mindset from what we have learnt in Afghanistan to future conflicts. The simulation phase will help ensure we are better equipped and prepared in years to come.”

Whilst Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology, Philip Dunne, said: “Science and technology has a crucial role to play in growing our understanding of the battlefield. Evidence gathered from this experiment will be used to guide decisions on the type of equipment we need to fight conflicts in all terrains. Simulation is playing an increasingly important part in delivering cost-effective training solutions across all our defence domains.”

It would be recall that last week’s exercise follows a previous real-life simulation exercise in December 2012 at the Urban Warfare Training Centre(CENZUB) in France. Soldiers worked with Warrior armoured vehicles and Challenger 2 tanks in one of the most realistic battlefield scenarios created.

Vigilance gathered Dstl will now use the data collected to feed a further simulation model, collating results from all of the simulations. The analytical results of this programme, designed by MOD scientists and Niteworks Partnership, will provide evidence-based advice to the Army on the critical capabilities required in order to operate in the future urban battlefield, and the most cost-effective approaches to developing the future force.