World Bulletin / News Desk
Britain is to create a new rapid-response strike force and buy more fighter jets and warships over the next decade.
Prime Minister David Cameron said his government’s plans, which will see it put £178 billion [$269 billion] into defense spending, were necessary because the events of recent months showed the U.K. had to “expect the unexpected”.
The two 5,000-strong “strike brigades”, which will have the ability to deploy British forces over long distances at speed, are the result of a government defense and security review.
It was also revealed the cost of renewing Britain’s nuclear missile system was spiraling and could reach £40 billion [$60.5 billion].
In a statement to parliament on Monday afternoon, Cameron said: “We will create two new strike brigades, forces of up to 5,000 personnel, fully equipped to deploy rapidly and sustain themselves in the field.
“We will establish two additional Typhoon [fighter jet] squadrons, and an additional squadron of F35 Lightning combat aircraft to operate from our new aircraft carriers.
“We will maintain our ultimate insurance policy as a nation, our continuous at sea nuclear deterrent and replace our four ballistic missile submarines.
“We will buy nine new maritime patrol aircraft to be based in Scotland in RAF Lossiemouth. They will protect our nuclear deterrent. They will hunt down hostile submarines and they will enhance our maritime search and rescue.”
He also said Britain’s Royal Navy would see an increase in its frigates and destroyers by the 2030s.
He continued: “History teaches us that no government can predict the future. We have no way of knowing precisely what course events will take over the next five years.
“We must expect the unexpected, but we can make sure that we have the versatility and the means to respond to new risks and threats to our security as they arise.”
But opposition lawmakers criticized the mounting costs of the Trident nuclear deterrent, which Scottish National Party London leader Angus Robertson described as “a weapons system of mass destruction which can never be used”.
“As we learn its replacement is ballooning and will be squeezing out defense alternatives, how expensive does Trident need to be for this Government to realize that it is a super-expensive vanity project that does not deter?”
Kate Hudson, general secretary of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, said the government had “completely lost control of the budget”.
“In its determination to replace this cold war relic, the government is prepared to keep on spending, even if it's to the detriment of conventional forces and tackling the real security threats we face, such as terrorism, cyber warfare and climate change,” she said in a statement.
But Richard Kemp, a retired officer who worked for the British Government’s Joint Intelligence Committee, said the defense review was welcome because the country’s armed forces had reached a stage where they were not capable of meeting external threats.
He told the BBC: “Back in 2010, when the last review took place, the existence of ISIL was not really understood, the threat from Russia was not really envisaged as it is today and the U.S. did not appear to be taking quite such a back seat as it is.
“So all of those three things combined, and other developments in the world, means that we were not anticipating what was going to happen. And the problem with defense is you can't foresee the future, you can't see what is going to happen, so you do have maintain a significant level of defense as an insurance policy.”