19 November 2020
U.K. Space Force Ready to Launch: Boris Boasts $22 Billion Boost to Britain's Military Future
By Thomas Brewster
U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is to spend an additional £16.5 billion ($22 billion) on future warfare programs, with bets on artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and space operations. In Thursday’s announcement, Johnson boasted it will be the “biggest program of investment in British defense since the end of the Cold War.”
As part of the defense spending, the U.K. will create a new agency dedicated to AI, a National Cyber Force and a new Space Command, capable of launching the country’s first rocket in 2022. Johnson is following in the footsteps of Donald Trump, who announced the U.S. Space Force in late 2019, launching its first satellite in early 2020.
Number 10 is claiming the new programs will create up to 10,000 thousand jobs annually across the country.
“I have taken this decision in the teeth of the pandemic because the defense of the realm must come first,” Johnson said. “The international situation is more perilous and more intensely competitive than at any time since the Cold War, and Britain must be true to our history and stand alongside our allies. To achieve this we need to upgrade our capabilities across the board.”
Johnson’s government had already announced it would increase defense spending by 0.5% above inflation for every year of the current parliament. With the added boost announced today, it means there will be an overall increase of about £24.1 billion over four years compared to last year’s budget.
The Conservative government has been pressing toward a refreshed space warfare program in recent years. In mid-2019, then defense secretary Penny Mordaunt announced a £30 million boost to fast-track the launch of a small satellite demonstrator. The U.K. was also America’s first partner to join Operation Olympic Defender, set up to deter adversary attacks in space.
On the cyber side, the U.K. government, like its allies in the U.S., have
faced rising threats from China, Iran and Russia. Earlier this year, the
U.K. issued an alert on attacks on organizations developing Covid-19
vaccines. And in September Foreign Secretary Dominic
Raab warned about extensive Chinese attacks on U.K. systems designed to
support home working in the middle of the pandemic, when many had been told
to work remotely.