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Editor's Blog and Industry Comments

SBAC warning on reduction in UK defence Research and Technolgy (R&T) budget

20 April, 2009
Drop in defence R&T budget risks future equipping of armed forces,Government told
The Society of British Aerospace Companies (SBAC), the UK’s aerospace,defence and security trade association, has warned theGovernment ahead of Wednesday’s Budget that the decline in R&T funding for defence will harm both the armed forces’ability to carry out their roles in future and will be a signal to theindustry of the Government’s declining commitment to maintaininghigh-skilled research in this country. The MoD’s R&T budget has gone downby 7 per cent this year. It stood at £540m in 2007/8 and £502m in 2008/9.

Government and industry both invest heavily in R&T for equipment to ensurethe armed forces have the right equipment for the future. This funding alsoprovides the platform on which Urgent Operational Requirements (UORs) andurgent upgrades can be based. The rapidly-changing needs of the armedforces can only be met by industry from expertise in research teams that issustained by this R&T funding.

Ian Godden, SBAC Chief Executive, said: "The Chancellor and the Treasury have to be made aware that the MoD’s R&Tbudget should be boosted, not cut, to maintain our armed forces’ capabilityand our industrial base. We look to this week’s Budget to correct therecent drop in this vital area. In the context of Government spending it isa very small amount but it delivers crucial funding with which industry caninnovate and deliver for our military.

"The defence industry is ready to continue its joint commitment to invest in R&T, but needs the signal that Government is not cutting its own commitmentto early stage funding otherwise industry will have to follow suit.

"It is a well proven fact that the amount spent on research is a criticalfactor in the quality and capability of defence equipment in the field. Itseems particularly strange that the Government is calling for the creationof an innovative and highly-skilled nation and at the same time is reducingfunding to one of the most important innovative areas where we are a worldleader.

"This world-leading UK industry, that supplies the best possible equipmentto the nation’s armed forces and that led the world in defence exports in2007, is successful because of investment decisions taken by Government andindustry many years in the past. If that investment is now on a slipperydownwards slope then we store up problems for the future for both our armedforces and for our engineering and high-tech manufacturing industrial base.’
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