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MOD to get £160m for high-tech defence plans



After months of delay and internal government disagreements, the latest defence review will be published later, setting out the future threats to the UK and how the Ministry Of Defence plans to tackle them.

The Modernising Defence Programme (MDP) will be presented to Parliament by the defence secretary. He will announce a new £160m transformation fund to support a team of specialists who will anticipate and analyse threats.

“National security challenges have become more complex, intertwined and dangerous since 2015, faster than anticipated,” Gavin Williamson will say.

“Persistent aggressive state competition now characterises the international security context.”

There will also be a new series of programmes focused on harnessing cutting edge technologies for a range of issues, such as tackling threats to submarines and using artificial intelligence.

The transformation fund will help Britain stay ahead of its rivals, the MOD has said, including in space and cyber threats.

But the defence secretary is keen to ensure the focus on new areas does not cut provisions to traditional capabilities like jets, warships and armoured vehicles.

“To improve the combat effectiveness of our Force, we will re-prioritise the current defence programme to increase weapon stockpiles. And we are accelerating work to assure the resilience of our defence systems and capabilities,” he said.

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson arrives in Downing Street
Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson will present the new programme to Parliament

The MDP was launched in January 2018, shortly after Gavin Williamson was appointed. It emerged from a wider national security review ordered by the Prime Minister in 2017.

It was due to be published to coincide with the NATO Summit in June but was delayed because of a row between the chancellor and the defence secretary.

Mr Williamson finally won a £1.8bn increase to the defence budget, announced in October’s budget. That meant threatened cuts to the UK’s amphibious fleet were prevented and immediate job losses put off, but the MOD still faces an unsustainable shortfall in funding.

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