The UK’s continuing Strategic Defence and Security Review process has identified the lack of a maritime patrol aircraft capability as a key area of consideration, defence secretary Michael Fallon says.

“Maritime patrol was one of the acknowledged gaps in the last review [and] one of the capabilities that we had to forego,” Fallon said during the Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) exhibition in London, on 16 September. “We had to take a pretty tough decision to take some risk on that capability, so it will obviously be one of the key capabilities that we will look at as we get to the end of this review.”

Fallon says the SDSR process is now in its second half, ahead of being released later this year, “but we’re not yet at the stage at which we have to take decisions on the capabilities that will help us tackle the threats that we have identified.” Referring to the question of whether it could acquire a new maritime patrol fleet, he adds: “clearly that is one we will be looking at very hard.”

Also during the show, Fallon announced a new contract with MBDA worth more than £300 million ($463 million), to supply additional ASRAAM short-range air-to-air missiles for the Royal Air Force’s Eurofighter Typhoons. To run over an eight-year period, the sustainment deal will deliver new weapons using technologies developed for the company’s common anti-air modular missile family.

And in a new initiative linked to the same programme, Fallon says the Ministry of Defence is to take the lead on key export campaigns, including those linked to the Typhoon and complex weapons products.

“These are areas where my department is best placed to offer unique benefits, such as the exchanges, advice, doctrine and training that can enhance the long-term capabilities of our partners, and increase the interoperability that they are seeking,” he says.