The UK will be able to meet its military spending priorities for the next 10 years without having to make additional cuts to its personnel or equipment profiles, defence secretary Philip Hammond announced on 14 May.
Marking the completion of a delayed planning round process for 2012, Hammond's statement confirmed that the Ministry of Defence's long-term funding has been brought into balance, with £152 billion ($245 billion) to be available over the next decade, plus an un-allocated contingency of £8 billion. The department's actions of the last 18 months have removed a previously-identified shortfall of £38 billion. "The black hole in the defence budget has finally been eliminated," Hammond says.
All major aircraft programmes remain in place. These include the Eurofighter Typhoon, Lockheed Martin F-35, Airbus Military A400M and A330 Voyager tanker/transport, plus investments in rotorcraft and complex weapons.
"We will not commit to any programme without a 10-year budget line," Hammond says, describing the stance as representing a model of new financial discipline. "This department has seen its reputation tarnished in the past," he says. "I am determined for it to turn a new leaf."
"Although transformation is an important process, the result must be about delivering capability," says Gen Sir David Richards, Chief of the Defence Staff. "We are now in a position to build."
Hammond's announcement follows a change of direction for the UK's future purchase of the F-35, which he confirmed on 10 May. This will see the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm operate the fifth-generation type in its short take-off and vertical landing guise, rather than the C-model carrier variant. All three armed service chiefs agreed to the switch, which should allow the navy to bring both of its Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers into service from early in the next decade.