Farnborough Airshow: UK to invest £1.1 billion in counter terror capabilities says Cameron, but F-35 still grounded
A model of the F-35 at Farnborough. Photo: BBC
British Prime Minister David Cameron today announced a £1.1 billion boost to the Armed Forces and the government's cyber secruity defences. The investment includes an £800 million intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance package to bolster Special Forces capabilities in response to the threat of global terrorism and hostage taking.
Speaking at the Farnborough International Airshow, Cameron said the investment was possible thanks to the government’s cost-cutting measures and MOD’s careful management of its finances.
The new funding also includes an investment of £300 million in existing capabilities including a new E-Scan radar for Typhoon and the purchase of Ice Patrol Ship HMS Protector.
"Having modern, technologically advanced and flexible armed forces to protect us and our interests is vital," said Cameron.
"We are also taking action to sustain our thriving defence industry, as part of our long-term economic plan to back business, create jobs and secure a brighter future for hardworking people."
Ahead of his appearance at Farnborough the PM wrote an article in The Telegraph warning against new threats and "unseen enemies."
"There are those who believe we would be safer if we fundamentally retreated from the world," wrote Cameron.
"They see new warships and military investment and imagine a Government bent on foreign adventurism. But the plain fact is that in the 21st century, you cannot defend the realm from the white cliffs of Dover.
"Terrorist plots hatched thousands of miles away threaten to cause harm on our streets. When fragile and lawless states fracture, migration flows can affect us right here."
The Prime Minister also announced the establishment of a UK Defence Solutions Centre in Farnborough to bring together industry, with support from government, to develop the new defence technologies of the future and identify future market opportunities.
The investment is good news for the Armed Forces and Britain’s defence industry, not to mention being a welcome distraction from the F-35’s failure to appear at the show. The Joint Strike Fighter was due to make its international debut last week at RIAT in Gloucestershire but an engine fire in June grounded the entire fleet while investigations are carried out.
While said to be an isolated incident and "not a [long-term] setback to the programme" by Lt. Gen. Bogdan, it’s certainly another embarrassing hiccup for the F-35. However, fortunately Lockheed Martin is prioritising pilot safety ahead of the inevitable PR headache. That is the right decision.
Rarely mentioned in the media these days without being cited as the "troubled F-35 programme," commentators and analysts are losing patience with the costly next generation fighter. A delegation of high profile politicians, including Frank Kendall, the DoD's chief weapons buyer, and F-35 industry representatives held a press conference at Farnborough to discuss the current state of the project.
They've had a decades-long staring contest with critics and remain absolutely steadfast in their commitment to the programme, despite finding it increasingly difficult not to blink.