Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology Peter Luff discussed the White Paper, 'National Security Through Technology', on Sky's Jeff Randall Live show yesterday, outlining the steps he has taken to boost the UK defence industry such as new support for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises and the introduction of measures to help defence firms export products abroad. | Various papers report today that Pakistan has rejected the leaked US military report alleging that its intelligence services exercise a tight control over the Taliban. | Various papers also report that the US and other international forces expect to end their combat role in Afghanistan by 2013, according to US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta - the first time the Obama administration has said it could foresee an end to regular US and NATO combat operations by the second half of next year. | The Daily Star trails their Soldiering On Awards 2012. | The Guardian reports that British diplomats have accused Argentina of plotting an economic blockade of the Falklands by attempting to stop all flights from Chile reaching the islands. | And various papers report that Argentina has accused Britain of military belligerence by deploying Prince William 'in the uniform of a conqueror'. | The Sun reports that the Prime Minister will order all departments across Whitehall to clear the red tape delaying assistance to wounded troops at the first meeting of the 'Heroes Committee'.
National Security Through Technology
Several media today report on yesterday's publication of the White Paper 'National Security Through Technology' which sets out how the Government will provide the best equipment for our Armed Forces while achieving best value for money for UK taxpayers.
The White Paper was broadly welcomed by the defence industry, who particularly supported news that the Defence Science and Technology budget will now be protected to ensure the UK continues to develop cutting-edge new equipment to give our troops the advantage in battle.
However, some trade unions expressed concern that the White Paper's commitment to ensure Defence and Security tenders were as open and competitive as possible, with equipment bought off-the-shelf where practical, would damage the UK defence industry and potentially lead to job losses.
In response, Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology, Peter Luff, said: "Given the defence black hole we inherited, my priority must be to get the best equipment to our Armed Forces at the best price for the taxpayer. That is why we will take full advantage of competitive domestic and international markets and - where appropriate - purchase proven off-the-shelf solutions that meet our current military needs. Striking the right balance between developing bespoke solutions and purchasing kit off-the-shelf is in the interest of both our Armed Forces and UK taxpayers.
"We do nothing to help our economy and sustain jobs by wasting taxpayers' money on unproven, costly capabilities, and we do nothing to help UK industry by allowing the defence funding black hole to once again blight the sector.
"The vital UK defence industry is highly competitive and will continue to win lucrative contracts. Just this week, we announced a £483m contract with MBDA (UK) to develop state-of-the-art Sea Ceptor missiles for the Royal Navy which will sustain 500 jobs.
"To assist UK firms we will preserve government investment in Science and Technology, help smaller companies win more contracts, champion UK exports and protect sovereign industry capabilities that relate to national security. These principles will underpin our relationship with industry as we invest more than £150bn in military equipment over the next decade."
The Times wrongly alleges that where the MOD's previous industrial policy - the 2005 Defence Industrial Strategy - stated that equipment essential to national security such as submarines had to be made in Britain, the 2012 White Paper has abandoned those principles.
Mr Luff said: "The White Paper sets out the approach we are taking to protect the UK's operational advantages and freedom of action necessary to protect our national security. We will make no compromise with that security. The 2005 Defence Industrial Strategy was an unfunded and unrealistic wish list. This White Paper, along with the publication later this year of our ten-year defence equipment plan, will set out an affordable, deliverable programme that will see us invest more than £150bn in the right equipment for our Armed Forces while achieving value for money for UK taxpayers."