- Britain’s defence forces are at a historical low
- Royal Navy needs more submarines & surface &,
- Royal Air Force needs more F-35Bs, Typhoons, and tactical lift aircraft,
- Army is short of everything; currently reducing another 9,500 troops to a total of 72,500.
Britain’s new Prime Minister, Liz Truss, has committed her government to up Britain’s defence spending to 3% of GDP by 2030.
Currently the defence budget is just over 2.1%. According to the Royal United Services Institute in London this increase will equate to an additional £147 billion being spent on Britain’s defence over the next eight years, so it is a significant uplift.
And it is urgently needed. Britain’s defence forces are at a historical low level across all three services, and the main lesson from the Ukraine war is that numbers count. The Royal Navy needs more submarines and surface warships, the Royal Air Force needs more F-35Bs, Typhoons, and tactical lift aircraft, and the Army is short of just about everything; currently it is in the process of reducing by another 9,500 troops down to a total strength of just 72,500.
Years of poor leadership by politicians and military figures alike have led Britain to where it is, and Ukraine and to a lesser extent the Taiwan stand-off have been a wake up call. What is not clear yet, however, is where the money for such a dramatic rise in defence spending will be found. The broad options would seem to be either cuts in other public services (but which?) or an increase in taxation, or possibly both.
Meanwhile the signs are that the UK might be facing a snap General Election in 2023. No part relishes entering an election campaign on the promise of increasing taxation or cutting public services, so it will be interesting to see how Prime Minister Truss will square this particular circle.