Love him or loathe him (these seem to be the only options), President Trump has made his intentions clear in his latest speech on US defence spending.
Putting aside his attire (donning a navy flight jacket and admiral’s cap has, unsurprisingly, generated some very strong opinions), he has committed to increasing the US defence budget by 10% to £43 billion. Further details presumably to follow.
By coincidence, the UK’s National Audit Office yesterday released its own, slightly less sensational spending assessment. The key message being the ‘risk to affordability’ of MoD equipment is ‘greater than at any point since 2012’. However, a closer look at the detail, provided by The Strategic Defence and Security Review, shows new commitments of £24.4 billion (including the mechanised infantry vehicle, the Poseidon aircraft and the F-35 fighters). Further, there is a detailed plan with regard to the funding of this – now there are, of course, challenges here (it will consume the entirety of the £10.7 billion contingency plus another £5.8 billion from savings ‘elsewhere').
Overall, I think good news for UK aerospace & defence contractors and indeed, President Trump, who now has the UK as an example of how to increase defence spending in a strategic fashion and with, at least, the start of an idea of how to fund it.
“In these troubled time our Navy is the smallest it’s been since World War One – that’s a long time ago,” he said. “In fact I just spoke to Navy and industry leaders and discussed my plans to make a major expansion of our Navy fleet, including having the 12-carrier Navy we need.”