Royal Air Force operations with the Sentinel R1 and Shadow R1 intelligence aircraft are to be extended until 2018, as part of a £1.1 billion ($1.8 billion) funding boost for the Ministry of Defence announced at the show. Also included is money to acquire an active electronically scanned array radar for some of the service’s Eurofighter Typhoons.
Cameron says that £800 million of the sum will be spent on continuing operations with the intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance aircraft types, which had both been slated for retirement after the UK ends its involvement in Afghanistan.
Retaining such equipment will allow the UK to respond to threats “that you cannot defend against from the white cliffs of Dover”, he says, citing examples as including “terrorism and hostage taking”.
To coincide with the funding announcement, a Sentinel R1 from the RAF’s 5 Sqn is on static display at the show. The service’s heavily adapted Bombardier Global Express aircraft will be brought into the MoD’s core equipment budget, along with its Beechcraft King Air 350ER-derived Shadows.
“There will be further investment in unmanned future combat air systems, and in an upgraded E-scan radar for our Typhoons,” Cameron says, with further details on both projects expected to emerge here on Tuesday. “This is a huge programme of investment to give our armed forces the tools they need to the job,” he adds.
Meanwhile, Cameron says that “there are other potential orders” for the Typhoon, beyond the UK’s success to date in brokering sales with Oman and Saudi Arabia. “We have got to keep working hard with partners to get this aircraft into as many markets as possible,” he says. “But I’m confident about what we have to sell.”
Describing the aerospace, defence and space sectors as “powerhouses of the British economy”, Cameron also used the show to announce a fresh investment in the UK’s aerospace growth partnership scheme worth £154 million, and two new initiatives via the defence growth partnership.
Airbus chief executive Tom Enders welcomed the latter commitment, noting: “It is particularly significant that government and industry will work together to improve competitiveness in the global market, by leveraging a world-class supply chain.”