14 Oct o2. In a speech during a defence industry conference, UK Secretary of State for Defence, Geoff Hoon M.P. outlined his proposals for future UK defence procurement strategy. (See BATTLESPACE UPDATE Vol.4 ISSUE 39 October 3rd 2002 UK DEFENCE INDUSTRY BACK ON THE AGENDA; BATTLESPACE NEWS, Volume 5, Issue 6, June/July 2002, ‘DEFENCE INDUSTRY POLICY PAPER TO ADDRESS FUTURE U.K. PROCUREMENT POLICY’.
“I am delighted to have the opportunity to speak at this defence industry conference organised by Jane’s and Economist Conferences. We all benefit from the quality of our defence industry. And we can be proud of its success. It provides some 3% of the UK’s manufacturing output and employs some 345,000 people directly and indirectly. The defence industry makes a major contribution to the UK economy and to this country’s science and technology base. Over the past 5 years it has achieved a global market share of some 21%, which is second only to the US defence industry – which is of considerably greater size. But perhaps more importantly, the defence industry provides the Armed Forces with the outstanding equipment, frequently at the cutting edge of technology, that they need to undertake their challenging roles. Indeed industry is increasingly providing the supporting services which the Armed Forces require to maintain their world-class standards. The significant contribution that companies, both large and small, make to our defence is greatly valued.
The Government has made clear its determination to support a strong British stake in the international defence industry. In the aerospace sector for example, British companies are leading on a number of major European defence projects. Eurofighter Typhoon, which will form the backbone of the RAF for many years to come, is a four-nation collaborative project in which British industry has a substantial stake. And we are seeking to co-operate with European partners on a new transport aircraft and a beyond visual range air-to-air missile, Meteor. But British industry and expertise is in demand further afield as well. As I announced only two weeks ago, we intend to acquire the Short Take-off and Vertical Landing variant of the Jojnt Strike Fighter, the F-35, to replace our Harrier jump-jets from around 2012. The UK is a full partner with the United States in the development of this aircraft. British industry has won, on merit, a significant and valuable part in that programme. Development of the Joint Strike Fighter is likely to prove the largest and most valuable defence procurement project in history. It is estimated that over 3,000 aircraft will be built for an increasing number of customers. And British industry will continue to benefit substantially both in the manufacture and support of the aircraft and its systems throughout its life.
On the same day, I again demonstrated my commitment to the future aircraft carrier by moving that programme ahead with the key decision to select an innovative, ‘future-proofed’ design. I hardly need add that the assertion from some quarters that the price to pay for this was a reduction in the size of the current fleet is completely without foundation. Indeed, we are embarked on the most extensive warship building programme for a generation, with the Type 45 destroyer, new amphibious warfare vessels, the Astute class of submarine, as well as essential support ships. We have all seen great changes in defence in recent years. The Strategic Defence Review showed how the type of operations that the Armed Forces would be engaged on in the future was markedly different from the predictable environment of the Cold War. The equipment needed for those operations has also changed. And our plans have continued to develop. We have added a new chapter to SDR, which recognises the importance of network-enabled capability in fighting today’s threats.
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