Summary: NATO member states are beginning to increase their military expenditure and visibility on the world’s defence stage in response to growing threats and expenditure from Russia and the Middle East.
Gen Sir Nick Carter, Chief of the General Staff of the UK Army, has said that Britain is planning large Cold War-style tank exercises in Poland next year in the wake of Russian aggression in Ukraine.
The announcement continues a series of measures designed to increase the visibility of the military presence of NATO members following increased Russian defence expenditure.
Recently, the UK had to rely on aircraft from NATO allies to help identify a Russian vessel off the coast of Scotland, since the UK has no maritime patrol vessels in service.
Around 1000 British troops, including 20 Challenger tanks and 30 Warrior armoured vehicles, are taking part in the training exercise in Poland which is intended to help send a signal to the world that the UK can meet defence threats head on.
UK Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said that the exercise was “a clear signal to our allies in NATO that we stand up to our obligations and will continue to do so”. Gen Sir Nick Carter also said that further joint training exercises were being planned well into 2015 between Poland and the UK.
Poland has also recently signed a contract with Lockheed Martin to supply Poland’s air force with JASSM long-range air-to-surface missiles is worth about $250m.
In addition, the growth of the Russian military has led to similar rises in defence expenditure among the Baltic countries of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. In the last six months, defence spending in these states has risen by $300m, with procurement of new vehicles and equipment from fellow NATO members making up the bulk of the expenditure.
Poland is fast becoming an attractive market for defence manufacturers. While other nations are reducing defence expenditure, Poland has a $41bn programme to modernise its entire armed forces by 2022.
As other NATO countries begin to follow suit in the wake of heightened tensions with Russia, defence manufacturers around the world will be looking to these nations for their next business opportunity.