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18 Oct 07. The Ministry of Defence will need to take some tough decisions on future equipment programmes if it is to deliver a credible update to its Defence Industrial Strategy, aerospace industry executives were told. Speaking at the Annual Northern Aerospace Forum, Allan Cook, SBAC President
and Chief Executive of Cobham plc, said; “This is a defining period for the aerospace industry. In my view, growth, productivity, skills and new technology are the building blocks for a sustainable future. Sustainable economically and sustainable environmentally. The Defence Industrial Strategy will have a key role in this process.

“Everyone recognises that with the huge pressure of operations on the MoD, the settlement that the department has obtained from the Treasury in the Comprehensive Spending Review will be a challenge. Lord Drayson has indicated that he wants DIS2 to be realistic and to be coupled to the MoD’s budgetary planning cycle. Whether this can all be achieved by mid-December remains to be seen, but we should certainly expect to see some tough decisions on programmes in 2008.”

The Comprehensive Spending Review confirmed Government commitment to new aircraft carriers, new protected vehicles and additional air transport capacity. In addition it made provision for the maintenance of a nuclear deterrent and continued investment in accommodation for service personnel.

Allan Cook said, “DIS2 would need to address: the role of MoD as the ultimate systems integrator; the ability of MoD to embed an open systems approach in its procurement; dealing with legacy systems and perhaps most importantly whether
MoD have the skills base to tackle these issues and if not , how it can acquire these skills.”

The aerospace industry had set out its priorities for DIS2. These included:
• DIS2 should not distract attention from the implementation of the original
strategy, there needed to be a particular emphasis placed on the creation and agreement of new commercial models.
• It should bring recent consultations on the role of SMEs in innovation to a conclusion and identify a clear way forward.
• It should provide greater transparency on how research and technology
investment will flow through to procurement and give consideration to exploiting civil/military linkages.
• It should provide a clear framework for the MoD’s international collaborations.
• Industry feels it should be fully consulted on the development of new sectors and these should include propulsion and space.

The Annual Northern Aerospace Forum is jointly organised by the North West Aerospace Division of IMechE, the Northwest Aerospace Alliance and the North West

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