GLOBAL DEFENSE MARKET
DSEI NEWS: U.K. Going All in to Boost Weapon Exports
Stew Magnuson photo
LONDON — Admitting that weapon exports have taken a backseat to domestic production in the past, the United Kingdom’s point man on defense procurement said Sept. 12 that the nation is going to “take an activist approach” to turn that around.
James Cartlidge, member of Parliament and minister for defense procurement, in a brief opening speech at the DSEI trade show in London announced a number of new initiatives that will lead to more weapon sales overseas.
“Exports won’t be an afterthought, but a part of our DNA,” he said. “We’re going to be unapologetic about the benefits of exports,” he added.
The ministry will reestablish a Defence Exports Inter-Ministerial Group to help pave the way for more overseas business, he said.
“Last year we sold 14 billion pounds worth of defense and security kit. But with the skill and talent at our disposal, I’m convinced we can even do better,” he said.
The United Kingdom will spend more than 50 billion pounds on defense for the first time and is committed to increasing that number until it reaches the 2.5 percent of GDP that NATO asks its members to do, “where fiscal conditions allow,” he said.
“It’s as much about prosperity as it is security,” he said, noting that weapon exports add up to high-tech jobs.
The ministry will identify key companies inside and outside the industrial base “and bring them closer to the fold” with the new Defence Suppliers Forum, he said. “They will not only get a foot in the door, they will have a seat at the table,” he said.
“As part of our new relationship, we’re making sure we provide our industry partners with a much clearer demand signal about our intensions, our planning assumptions and our evolving requirements,” he said.
That demand signal will allow industry to invest in skills and people, he said.
It will strengthen bilateral relations in order to make arms deals, he said. Cartlidge recently traveled to Poland to strengthen ties with its NATO ally. The two nations are in the early stages of developing the new 1.9 billion pound Common Anti-Air Modular Missile, the largest ever program funded between the two nations, a Ministry of Defence press release said.
He also announced that the nation was going to step up munitions production, namely 155mm artillery shells, 30mm medium caliber rounds and 5.56mm ammunition, with a 130 million pound investment in BAE Systems facilities, which is on top of a 280 million pounds announced in July.
The work will go to BAE facilities in Washington, Tyne and Wear, and Glascoed, South Wales, which will open new machining lines. The work will result in 200 more jobs in the two facilities, a BAE statement said.
The ministry will also release a “Uncrewed Systems Strategy” document in the coming months to help the nation’s armed forces move forward on robotics, Cartlidge said.