08 Mar 2017

Harriett Baldwin speaks at Security and Defence Conference

Minister for Defence Procurement Harriett Baldwin, has addressed policy-makers, industry leaders and academic experts at the Chatham House Security and Defence Conference 2017.

The conference is designed to discuss the ever-evolving defence landscape, what are the future challenges in security and defence, and what capabilities are required to meet them?

Here we bring you the highlights from her speech:

On the implications for UK Defence, she said: “Our three National security objectives listed in 2015’s Strategic Defence and Security Review – to protect our people, project our influence, and promote our prosperity – remain right for today.

“We’re one of only five NATO nations meeting the 2 per cent target and we’ll continue investing in defence equipment: using our growing budget and £178bn 10-year equipment plan to spend on world class capability such as Dreadnought submarines and carriers, frigates and F-35.”

Looking to improve on current capabilities and build on the defence industry’s prosperity, she said that the MOD was actively seeking innovative technologies in autonomy, cyber and big data, to keep one step ahead of competitors and helping to bring UK industry to the forefront of the defence supply chain.

She said: “It’s (Innovation Initiative) all about pushing the boundaries, making defence more open to risk and new ideas.”

“We’ve set up an Innovation Fund worth around £800m over 10 years to pump prime investment into advanced new solutions, such as laser directed energy weapons and unmanned rotary wing technologies.

“And we’re running a set of competitions to develop leading edge capabilities in everything from rapid and automated integration of new sensors to machine learning algorithms.”

The Minister also took the time to announce a new Chief Scientific Adviser, Professor Hugh Durrant-Whyte, who has direct accountability for the defence research programme, and confirming the panel for the new Defence Innovation Advisory Panel: which includes Major Tim Peake; outgoing director of GCHQ, Robert Hannigan; and the founder and chairman of McLaren, Ron Dennis.

Mrs Baldwin also looked at the UK’s industrial strategy, with particular emphasis on Sir John Parker’s Shipbuilding report and how this can help to inform industrial capabilities across the UK.

This looks at the adoption of building clusters, a model already reaping benefits in the construction and maintenance of the F-35

She concluded: “Creating a pro-growth culture, means strengthening partnerships between Government and industry.

“We want you to build exportability in as standard from the outset, placing even greater emphasis on the use of modularity and open systems.”

“by working together to build a winning mentality and develop a pro-growth culture we will do more than enhance our capability, more than increase our prosperity, more than inspire a new generation of innovators.

“Together we will emulate the effect of that famous F-35 contract in Wales and send the strongest of signals to the world that our great defence industry and our great global nation are very much open for business.”


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