LONDON — Britain’s defense ministry plans to boost weapons stockpiles spending and form what it calls a global response force, according to a new plan to improve warfighting readiness set for release July 18.
The British are increasing spending by £2.5 billion ($3.3 billion USD) on replenishing weapons stocks, the defense ministry’s plan, known as a command paper, says.
The report is a refresh of a paper released in 2021 aimed at reshaping British defense, foreign and security strategy, but quickly overtaken by events with Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine.
The rebuild of munitions numbers comes after years of underinvestment after the Cold War and the delivery of hundreds of thousands of rounds of ammunition and missiles to Ukraine.
A press release issued by the defense ministry ahead of the new paper’s publication did not offer details on the length of time the extra cash will be spent or how much is currently being invested.
However, the ministry has already started rebuilding its stockpiles. Earlier this month, BAE Systems announced it had secured a deal to supply up to £400 million worth of munitions to rebuild British Army stocks — principally 155mm artillery shells.
NLAW anti-tank missiles stocks run down by the supply of weapons to Ukraine are already being replenished by Thales UK.
The new plan calls for the U.K. will also increase investment in the resilience and readiness of its munitions infrastructure, including storage facilities.
Additionally, according to the press release, the British are planning to form a global response force, but the release offers few details on how it will work.
It said the force will “enable the U.K. to ‘get there first,’ bringing together our deployed and high-readiness forces, and drawing on capabilities from all domains.”
“The global response force brings together forces from across land, sea, air, space and cyber to respond quickly to events around the world,” it added.
Additionally, the release said, the plan includes increases to research and defense spending, changes to the ministry’s relationship with industry, an increased surge capacity provided by strategic reserves and increased investment in AI-enabled military capability.
Outgoing defense secretary Ben Wallace said the command paper will “sharpen our strategic approach — ensuring the U.K. remains at the forefront of military capability, and a leading power in NATO.”
Wallace revealed over the weekend he would be quitting his post when Prime Minister Rishi Sunak undertakes a government reshuffle expected sometime in September.
Andrew Chuter is the United Kingdom correspondent for Defense News.