Join Our Newsletter - Get important industry news and analysis sent to your inbox – sign up to our e-Newsletter here

Integrated Review puts a spotlight on Armed Forces R&D

By Harry Lye 17 Mar 2021 (Last Updated March 17th, 2021 12:14)

The UK Government’s long-awaited Integrated Review, published yesterday, shines a spotlight on military research and development as it outlines plans to modernise the UK’s Armed Forces to meet future threats.

Integrated Review puts a spotlight on Armed Forces R&D
Image: MOD/ Crown Copyright.

In the document, the government rehashes a prior commitment to spend at least £6.6bn of previously-announced new money for defence over the next four years on research and development that will be used to “influence new designs and capabilities for vital equipment”.

The review promises to “reshape the UK’s armed forces for a more competitive age” and promises to continue the development of the Tempest Future Combat Air System (FCAS) that will eventually replace the Royal Air Force’s Typhoon fighter jets.

Commenting on the review, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: “The Integrated Review is modernising defence to counter future threats and promote our interests and values in a more competitive age.

“The Defence [Command] Paper being published next week will detail the new ways of operating and modern capabilities required to deliver on this vision and support our partners and allies around the world.”

The document says the R&D money will help the UK ‘maintain a cutting-edge military’ as well as enabling research into artificial intelligence and other ‘battle-winning’ technologies.

PhD researcher at Birkbeck College Emma Salisbury told Army Technology: “I am impressed by the wide-ranging nature of the review, and the evident desire to see Britain working with allies and partners to tackle global issues.

“I am pleased in particular to see so much investment in research and development for our armed forces, with a clear recognition of the importance of technology in our defence policy. The proof will, as ever, be in the implementation, but this is an excellent start.”

On the Armed Forces, the review reads: “We will create armed forces that are both prepared for warfighting and more persistently engaged worldwide through forward deployment, training, capacity-building and education.

“They will have full-spectrum capabilities – embracing the newer domains of cyberspace and space and developing high-tech capabilities in other domains, such as the Future Combat Air System. They will also be able to keep pace with changing threats posed by adversaries, with greater investment in rapid technology development and adoption.”

The review’s military R&D push is part of a wider effort to develop the UK’s status as a science and technology superpower – a theme that is consistently present throughout the document.

In a foreword to the document, Prime Minister Boris Johnson writes that the UK aims to have “secured our status as a Science and Tech Superpower by 2030”.

In a section on science and technology, the review reads: “Our first goal is to grow the UK’s science and technology power in pursuit of strategic advantage.

“Achieving this objective requires a whole-of-UK effort, in which the Government’s primary role is to create the enabling environment for a thriving S&T ecosystem of scientists, researchers, inventors and innovators, across academia, the private sector, regulators and standards bodies, working alongside the manufacturing base to take innovations through to markets.”

The wider implications of the review for the Ministry of Defence (MOD) are set to be outlined in the Defence Command Paper due to be published on 22 March.