Joint Team Will Formulate Plan to Boost U.K. Defense Industry
A long-term plan to boost the growth prospects of Britain’s defense and security industries is to be launched by a joint government-industry team, business minister Mark Prisk revealed at the Farnborough International Airshow July 10.
Prisk said he hopes to start talks with industry leaders this month aimed at quickly putting in place a growth roadmap for the defense and security sectors.
“We have set up provisional discussions with key industry [leaders] over the next couple of weeks with a view to getting this partnership set up early in the autumn,” the Business, Innovation and Skills Department minister told Defense News.
The minister said his department and industry had gone from setting up a similar scheme for the aerospace sector to the completion of a report on the way ahead in 18 months.
“I would hope to do something similar in the case of defense and security,” he said.
The minister said the plan would be led by the Business, Innovation and Skills Department rather than the Ministry of Defence.
The MoD has said repeatedly in recent months that it is not its responsibility to support British industry but rather to equip the military with the best equipment at affordable prices buying overseas when necessary.
Declining military equipment spending at home, low levels of MoD research and technology spending and increasing competition in the export market is putting the long term health of Britain’s highly successful defense in jeopardy.
With the Conservative-led coalition putting the high tech manufacturing industry at the heart of its plans to rebalance the economy away from the financial sector, the aerospace, defense and security sectors have assumed increasing importance in recent months.
“We are putting together a team principally lead by the Business Department, not the MoD. We want to work with MoD but we want to have a distinction between industry issues and the government as a client so we need to involve the MoD but they should not run the scheme,” Prisk said.
Government and the aerospace industry have been involved in a much admired Aerospace Growth Partnership, which aims to create a shared vision and plan for the sector for the next 15 years and beyond.
The plan covers capabilities, research and technology requirements, government policy and supply chain requirements.
Prisk said there was scope for the synergies between military and civil aerospace sectors to be looked at more closely.