The U.K. government has advanced a plan to to encourage closer ties between government and the U.K. defense industry to boost international exports and competitiveness.
A document, “Strategic Vision for the Defense Sector,” was published as part of the launch of the Defense Growth Partnership. Announced on the eve of the DSEi defense trade exhibition in London, it follows from similar initiatives unveiled in 2012 to boost cooperation between the civil aerospace sector and government that have resulted in £2 billion ($3 billion) worth of joint industrial investment to boost skills and research and development.
Although the government has not pledged money, the government is hoping that a similar partnership with Britain’s defense companies will encourage growth in an industry that managed to achieve over £8 billion of sales in 2012 thanks mainly to the sale of Eurofighters and Hawk jet trainers to Oman and Saudi Arabia.
The scheme has the backing of Prime Minister David Cameron, who is pushing an agenda of export-led economic growth. Cameron himself has traveled with defense company officials in tow to lobby for defense sales, particularly for the Typhoon in the United Arab Emirates.
The partnership will focus on six core areas: air capabilities, intelligent systems, growing international business, technology and enterprise, skills and value chain competitiveness. Of these, the primary focus will be on air capabilities, an area which has yielded 82% of the U.K.’s defense export success over the past decade.
The “Intelligent Systems” team will exploit the U.K.’s “high value-added capabilities in electronics, software and systems integration that enable leading-edge military capability in all environments,” the document says.
The partnership will be developed in conjunction with industry in the coming months, with a joint plan to be unveiled during the summer of 2014.
It is possible that the plan may include elements of a new foreign military sales system being considered for U.K. defense exports. Speaking in Parliament on Sept. 5, Philip Dunne, the minister for defense equipment, support and technology, said he had recently commissioned a joint Ministry of Defense/Industry study to consider whether “aspects of the U.S. Foreign Military Sales system could be adopted by the U.K.”
The document says “overseas customers are often seeking tailored or integrated solutions supported by the U.K. Government with the provision of technology transfer, inward investment and local partnering.”
“This study is at too early a stage to speculate on what conclusions will be drawn,” Dunne said.