Government commits £500m to defence innovation scheme
Funding set out for Spearhead programme for use of new technology in intelligence and warfare
Over the next seven years, the government is to commit more than £500m to a programme designed to promote innovation and the use of new technologies in warfare and intelligence operations.
The creation of the Spearhead innovation programmes was announced in December by then defence secretary Gavin Williamson. The schemes are designed as to help the armed forces and intelligence services make use of “cutting-edge technologies”, he said.
Spearhead is split into three tracks: land command and control; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; and anti-submarine warfare.
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Over the course of the next seven years, the government will put a cumulative total of £544.1m into exploring innovation in these areas, according to Conservative peer Earl Howe, who was responding to a written parliamentary question from his colleague Lord Robathan.
Close to three-quarters of the funding – £395.9m – will be put into the anti-submarine warfare track. Land command and control will receive £73.9m to spend on innovation, while intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance will be given £74.2m.
“This initiative does not obviate the need for an equipment programme of major units, procured in the traditional manner, in order to deliver defence tasks,” Earl Howe added. “What it seeks to do is to address known risks and issues with the current force, leveraging emerging technology and innovation in order to enable us to remain ahead of our adversaries.”
During the first year of the Spearhead programmes, a total of £34.8m will be invested by the government, he added. Anti-submarine warfare will receive £16.3m, with £9.6m and £8.9m being respectively given to fund new-technology adoption in the intelligence and command and control strands.
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