Britannia is back, the UK is back. A few days after the eventful departure of his top adviser Dominic Cummings, amid Brexit negotiations, Boris Johnson’s message is intended to be clear. With an increase of around 10% over the current budget of around £ 40bn (almost € 45bn), Britain’s exit from the European Union is not relinquishing its ‘global role’. The signal is also addressed to the president-elect of the United States, Joe Biden, who intends to relaunch cooperation with European allies.
This investment, unmatched for 30 years, announced on Thursday 19 November by the British Prime Minister, aims to make Great Britain a pioneer in advanced technologies – robots, autonomous systems, satellites – to respond to threats in space. and cyberspace.
New entities will be created: an agency dedicated to artificial agency, a cyber force aimed at countering computer attacks and a space command capable of launching its first rocket in 2022. These new credits will also allow, says Boris Johnson, “Restoring the UK’s position as the leading naval power in Europe.”
In total, the Ministry of Defense will get an increase of 24.1 billion pounds (27 billion euros) over four years compared to the 2018 budget. 190 billion pounds (212 billion euros) will be invested on defense in the next four years, or 2.2% of its GDP. All these projects will create up to 10,000 jobs per year, according to the head of government.
Cuts in international aid expected
These announcements are a victory for Defense Minister Ben Wallace, but bad news for other ministries. The government could slash international aid.
→ READ. In the UK, Boris Johnson presents his “green revolution”
Investments in advanced technologies should also be accompanied by a reduction in the number of personnel and equipment in conventional military units. “It’s a lot of money, but at the end of the day, our military is still under enormous financial pressure.” underlines the Conservative MP and Chairman of the Defense Committee, Tobias Ellwood.
“There is some danger in taking an approach that sees cyberspace, space and artificial intelligence as simply replacing military equipment such as artillery, submarines and attack aircraft.” commented, for his part, Peter Roberts, director of military science at the Royal United Services Institute for Defense and Security Studies (RUSI), a British think tank specialized in defense and security.
“Cyberspace, space, data, electronic warfare, and information can add value, but they cannot perform the same vital tasks. The lessons learned since 2008 from Georgia, Ukraine, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, India, Pakistan, China, South Korea, Sudan and Nagorno-Karabakh demonstrate this very clearly. “
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