Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Thursday the largest military investment made since the end of the Cold War in the United Kingdom that will include a space command, an artificial intelligence agency and a cyber force.
The program, consisting of 16,500 million pounds (22,000 million dollars, 18,500 million euros) for the next four years, was presented by Johnson before the parliament by videoconference from Downing Street since he is in quarantine after having been in contact with a deputy diagnosed with coronavirus.
“I have decided that the era of defense cuts must end and ends now,” he said, calling for an end to the “pull-back” to strengthen British influence in the world.
“I have made this decision in the midst of the pandemic (…) because the defense of the kingdom (…) must be the priority,” he added.
Coupled with his electoral promise to increase the British military budget each year by 0.5% above inflation, this additional investment unprecedented in the last 30 years means 24.1 billion pounds more for the armed forces.
This increase will bring the military budget to 190,000 million pounds in the next four years, reinforcing the position of the United Kingdom as the European country that spends the most on Defense (2.2% of its Gross Domestic Product) and second in NATO behind the States. United.
However, amid a pandemic that has hit the country with 53,000 deaths and the worst recession in recent history, opposition leader Keir Starmer wondered “how this announcement will be paid for.”
“Will there be additional indebtedness, or increased taxes, and if so, which ones, or will the money have to come from other ministries?”, He launched, without obtaining a precise answer.
Johnson declined to answer whether the funds will come from a cut in very generous British development aid, currently set at 0.7% of GDP.
– New technologies and warships –
With increasing threats from countries like Russia and China, “the international situation is more dangerous and intensely competitive than at any time since the Cold War and the UK must be true to its history and support its allies,” said the prime minister. in an apparent nod to the president-elect of the United States, Joe Biden.
Faced with new threats such as cyberattacks, the United Kingdom also intends to “be a pioneer in new technologies,” he said, announcing the creation of a new agency dedicated to Artificial Intelligence, a National Cybernetic Force and a new “Space Command” capable to launch its first rocket by 2022.
They are “technologies that will revolutionize warfare,” Johnson said.
Thus, “a soldier in hostile territory will be alerted to a distant ambush by the sensors of the satellites or drones, which will instantly transmit a warning, use Artificial Intelligence to design the optimal response, and offer a series of options, such as ordering an attack air by drones or paralyze the enemy with cyber weapons, “he explained.
“From the aerospace sector to autonomous vehicles, these technologies have a wide range of civil applications and will open new prospects for economic progress” that will create up to 40,000 jobs, inside and outside the Armed Forces, he said.
Johnson also promised to develop a new generation of warships that “will stimulate a revival of British shipbuilding across the UK” by boosting work in British shipyards.
acc / mb