The UK government has outlined a plan to boost the nation’s military expenditure by an additional £75 billion ($93.5 billion) through the rest of this decade.

Announced by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on 23 April, the step will see the UK “steadily increase defence spending to 2.5% of GDP by the end of the decade”. This is projected to represent an investment worth £87 billion in 2030.

The government says an immediate £3 billion top-up for the next financial year and increased funding for the remainder of this decade will “ensure the UK remains by far the second largest defence spender in NATO after the US”.

UK F-35B

Source: Crown Copyright

The UK is to boost its defence expenditure by £75 billion by the end of this decade

NATO’s most recent data shows that the UK spent the equivalent of 2.28% of its GDP on defence last year. This ranked it among only 11 of the alliance’s at-that-time 31 nations to meet or exceed its spending goal of at least 2% of GDP.

“This [2.5% benchmark] sets a new standard for other major European NATO economies to follow,” the UK government suggests.

Welcoming the increased spending pledge, NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg states: “The UK is leading by example.”

As part of its funding boost, the UK says “Additional funding will be used to put the UK’s defence industry on a war footing, deliver cutting-edge technology and back Ukraine against Russia.”

The last of these commitments has been bolstered by the announcement of an additional £500 million of equipment support to be provided to Kyiv this year. This will include ammunition, air-defence equipment, drones and precision deep-strike weapons.

Meanwhile, London will invest at least an additional £10 billion over the next decade on munitions production, “delivering high-quality jobs and investment across the UK and ensuring we have rapid production capacity and stockpiles of next-generation munitions”.

Other initiatives are to include reform of the UK’s defence procurement system, and the creation of a Defence Innovation Agency to oversee the allocation of at least 5% of the annual defence budget on research and development. Areas of interest include directed energy weapons, hypersonic missiles and space technologies.

“Between Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Iran and its proxies seeking to escalate deadly conflict, and China flexing its muscles, there can be no doubt that the era of the peace dividend is clearly over,” UK defence secretary Grant Shapps says.

“The mounting threats we face mean we must invest in defence if we are to continue to defend our values, freedoms and prosperity.”