12 Feb 2019

Defence Secretary sets out global vision for UK’s defence

The Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson has set out his vision for the future role of the UK’s Armed Forces following Britain’s exit from the European Union in a speech at Royal United Services Institute (RUSI).

In his speech, Mr Williamson recognised the current threats facing the UK including competing powers, hostile states and stateless ideologies operating in a ‘grey zone’ between war and peace.

He claimed it is crucial that Britain’s Armed Forces and defence infrastructure are ready to meet these challenges and do not stand still as the world moves forward, making a raft of announcements to support that goal.

To support this aspiration, the Defence Secretary announced new strategic assets that will allow Britain to meet the global challenges the future might hold.

Two new Littoral Strike Groups are to be created. Complete with escorts, support vessels and helicopters, one would be based to the East of Suez in the Indo-Pacific and one based to the West of Suez in the Mediterranean, Atlantic and Baltic.

To compliment these groups, there will be a Warfighting Division with troops able to deploy from our bases at home and in Germany. This will all ensure we have a global force, capable of deploying around the world in a matter of days.

The Defence Secretary also revealed that HMS Queen Elizabeth’s first operational mission will include the Mediterranean, Middle East and the Pacific with British and American F35s embedded in her air wing.

The RAF will also grow the number of Typhoon squadrons from five to seven – equipping them with world leading radar and upgraded deep strike Storm Shadow cruise missiles.

Mr Williamson also committed to use the Transformation Fund to develop swarm squadrons of network-enabled drones capable of confusing the enemy and overwhelming their air defences.

He said: “The UK is a global power with truly global interests. A nation with the fifth biggest economy on the planet. A nation with the world’s fifth biggest Defence budget and the second largest Defence exporter. And since the new Global Great Game will be played on a global playing field, we must be prepared to compete for our interests and our values far, far from home.”

image © Crown Copyright

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