It is my great pleasure for us all to be here back at DSEI and welcome to DSEI 2021.
There are 1,600 exhibitors from around 50 countries here exhibiting not only the best of British but cutting-edge kit from across the world.
Our Armed Forces are currently benefitting from their biggest investment boost since the Cold War.
I’m sure many of you will be familiar with the Integrated Review and Defence Command Paper published earlier this year. You’ll know that the Prime Minister has committed an extra £24 billion to support the Defence budget over the next four years, making a total of £188 billion.
You’ll know we are creating in a force fit the future, with £6.6 billion committed specifically to research and development. We’re going to be pioneering the sort of beyond-next-generation technology which can alter the face of conflict. So, to mark the opening of this festival of science, innovation and industry, I am delighted to today announce that we have awarded three contracts to UK firms to produce and trial advanced laser weapons.
These Directed Energy Weapons, which operate without ammunition, could make a vital to future national security. In the meantime, these contracts are also sustaining more than 250 skilled jobs.
But this is far from the only exciting innovation you’ll see over the next few days.
Across five zones, there is a host of new kit and technology designed to protect our people and safeguard our prosperity.
In the naval zone, you’ll see how we’re backing innovation in practice, with kit such as the Artificial Intelligence and autonomy which will protect our sailors at sea, as well as underwater drone swarms and directed energy weapons. And make sure you don’t miss the waterborne demonstrations and ships outside in the Royal Dock. In the land zone, you’ll get a taste of the competitive advantage we’re bringing in with Challenger 3 Main Battle Tanks and investment in our armoured fighting vehicles.
Moving to the aerospace zone, you’ll discover how we’re taking integration between government, industry and academia to the next level. Our Future Combat Air System (FCAS) is not just a sixth-generation system with a virtual brain embracing artificial intelligence, deep learning, novel sensors and communications technologies – it is a partnership where £2bn of Government investment is leveraging hundreds of millions from industry, providing opportunities for 2,500 apprentices and galvanising an entire sector.
With strong global alliances and a world-class industrial base , the UK is taking on this once-in-a-generation military modernisation challenge, as part of an international programme.
In zones devoted to cyber security and to space, you’ll learn how we’re ensuring our technologies, strategies and systems in these new domains can still be integrated with the rest of our force.
In a more uncertain age, success depends increasingly upon international collaboration.
We know we are better off when we work together; better off in terms of economies of scale and better off in terms of interoperability. And our new Defence and Security Industrial Strategy (DSIS) provides a framework for greater integration, both with industry and with our international allies.
Over the next few days, you all have a unique opportunity to boost your businesses, seal the deals and weave the web of capability that will keep our people safe and prosperous for the decades to come.
Enjoy DSEI 2021.