Though the United Kingdom’s Royal Navy may never again be the most powerful maritime force in the world, it will soon receive a hefty boost in spending. The British defence ministry announced an update to the "Defence Equipment Plan" for 2021-31 that included a significant increase in naval spending.
As part of the "Global Britain" policy, the government in London signaled its desire for a more capable Royal Navy with the Integrated Review 2021, which was initially published in March 2021. The announcement that the United Kingdom will increase investment in its senior service comes just months after the successful seven-month deployment of the Queen Elizabeth carrier strike group (CSG) to the Indo-Pacific Region.
"Over the ten years from 21/22, we plan to spend £238 billion on equipment procurement and support, an increase of £48 billion from last year's report,” the Defence Equipment Plan 2021-2031 noted. “In April 2021, we assessed the equipment plan to have £4.3 billion of headroom over ten years, compared to a shortfall of £7.3 billion in the previous report.”
Defense Equipment Plan
As part of the update to the plan, Britain will spend £38.1 billion in the equipment plan over the next ten years, compared to £30.6 billion at the end of the previous planning period. That will include an investment for a new lightweight torpedo for use with Royal Navy ships and aircraft and eventually replace the current Stingray weapon, NavalNews.com reported.
The Royal Navy will also seek to replace the Harpoon missile system, which is scheduled to be removed from service in 2023. Meanwhile, additional investment for the Merlin helicopters will enable it to remain in service until 2040. The update to the Defence Equipment Plan also calls for the development of world-leading autonomous minehunting capability to replace legacy platforms.
Most notable in the plan were the calls to increase both the capability and size of the Royal Navy's surface fleet while supporting the development of three Fleet Solid Support Ships, a Multi-Role Ocean Surveillance Capability, Multi-Role Support Ships and Type 31 and Type 32 frigates. Moreover, the plan called for extending the life of three of the Royal Navy's most recently refitted ships.
In addition to the surface fleet, the plan called for the launching the UK-designed cutting-edge Type 26 Anti-Submarine Warfare frigates alongside Canada and Australia.
Future Weapons and Flagship
The Ministry of Defence will also support investment in missile and sensor upgrades for the Type 45 Sea Viper system, as well as directed energy weapons.
Also notable is that the United Kingdom could see the construction of a new National Flagship, a vessel that was announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson last May. While not outlined in the recent plan, the flagship – which would be used to showcase "the best of British" – would replace the Royal yacht Britannia.
Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers and websites. He regularly writes about military small arms, and is the author of several books on military headgear including A Gallery of Military Headdress, which is available on Amazon.com.