LONDON — Britain is raising spending on special forces, intelligence agencies and cybersecurity, leading government ministers have said over the past 24 hours.
The announcements by Prime Minister David Cameron, Chancellor George Osborne and Home Secretary Teresa May were made in response to the Islamic State attack on Paris Nov. 13, which killed 129 people and injured hundreds more.
News of the capability hikes have been brought forward from a Nov. 23 rollout by the government of Britain's new strategic defense and security review.
Speaking at the Guildhall in his annual Lord Mayor’s banquet speech Monday night, Cameron pledged the Conservative government would invest a further £2 billion (US $3 billion) over five years in defense over the next five years.
Several media outlets here said the cash would be spent on items such as vehicles, helicopters, communications, night-fighting equipment and other capability improvements.
Howard Wheeldon of Wheeldon Strategic Advisory said in an analysis published Tuesday earlier today that the capability hike would likely include retaining the services of up to a dozen C-130J Hercules airlifters that are due to be retired in a couple of years. The aircraft are widely used by special forces. The prime minister had already earmarked the Britain’s special forces for extra investment on several occasions in the past couple of months.
In an interview Oct. 4, he also announced at the time Britain would double by doubling its 10-strong fleet of armed remotely piloted air vehicles.
The Royal Air Force already operates 10 General Atomics-built Reaper unmanned vehicles. All of them are deployed in the Middle East undertaking reconnaissance and missile attacks against Islamic State targets.
The RAF may also see its combat air capabilities strengthened by a decision to extend the service life of Tranche 1 Eurofighter Typhoon jets earmarked to be retired by 2020.
Chancellor George Osborne, in a speech Tuesday today at the GCHQ, the communications intelligence agency, said that Britain would spend £1.9 billion ($2.9 billion) up to 2020 countering cyber attacks as well as developing an offensive capability to counter terrorists, criminals, rogue states and others.
"In the Spending Review, I have made a provision to almost double our investment to protect Britain from cyber attack and develop our sovereign capabilities in cyberspace, totaling £1.9 billion over five years. If you add the spending on core cybersecurity capabilities, government protecting our own networks and ensuring safe and secure online services, the government's total cyber spending will be more than £3.2 billion," said Osborne.
The chancellor also announced a raft of other cybersecurity measures, including creation of a National Cyber Centre, Britain's first dedicated cyber force.
In Parliament on Monday, yesterday Home Secretary Theresa May said Britain would recruit be recruiting a further 1,900 security and intelligence staff to increase capabilities across the MI5, MI6 and GCHQ agencies.
The British government has said defense spending is increasing in real terms by 0.5 percent in each of the next five years. In addition, a £1.5 billion cash pot has been set aside, for which the defense and intelligence services can bid.
The MoD has also been told it can use any money it generates from efficiency savings for its own programs rather than hand it back to the Treasury.